Barcelona hoteliers write off the summer

The sector trusts in congresses in the autumn to stay afloat

2 min
Archive image of a hotel in Barcelona during the pandemic.

BarcelonaThe palpable increase of foreign tourism in the streets of Barcelona has not improved the situation of the city's hoteliers. The Hotelier Guild says that if it were a normal summer there would be about 60,000 people sleeping every night in hotels in Barcelona and that at the moment the number is below 15,000. "Three months ago were about 5,000, therefore, there is more tourism and it is normal to see some movement," explains Manel Casals, director general of the entity. This does not mean, however, that the situation is great.

"We have always said that we would have to write off the summer: we knew we would have a bad summer, obviously better than last year, which is not difficult, but the forecasts were bad and still are," sums up this spokesman for the sector.

It is true that large chains such as Meliá, Barceló and RIU have already opened all their establishments, but this does not mean significant changes, it seems, in the opening and occupancy rates of the Catalan capital: the Barcelona Hoteliers Guild estimates that more than half of the hotels are still closed, and that in those that are open the average occupancy rate is between 40% and 45%.

This is, in large part, because the hotels in Barcelona live on long-distance travellers and guests visiting the city for conventions, conferences or business meetings. Although the number of foreigners arriving in the Catalan capital is on the rise, most of them are still Europeans, and congress activity is practically non-existent in summer.

That is why hoteliers look to autumn as a possible salvation. For them, explains the director of the Hotelier Guild, "the summer is a good time, but it is not high season: that would be May and June and especially September and October," explains Casals. "We will not make money, but we should be able to break even, because otherwise it will be a very tough winter," he anticipates.

In fact, one of the great fears of this entity is that if during autumn tourist activity does not recover at a better pace than it has done so far, many companies may not survive the winter.

Investors look into hotels

It is precisely for this reason that investors have rushed into hotels. The real estate consultant Laborde Marcet claims that the hotel business is living through a peculiar month of August. The covid crisis, explains Gerard Marcet, founding partner of the firm, "has brought a situation of financial stress to the sector due to the drastic fall in tourism, and has led some owners to reach agreements at more competitive prices".

However, the data indicate that prices have not fallen very noticeably: the negative impact of the economic crisis, they say, has been offset by increased demand to buy hotels.

This consultant says that the most sought-after asset is a hotel of at least 80 rooms, with a price of between €200,000 and €600,000 per room. That is, the total price of the most sought-after hotel profile would range between €15m and €50m.