September 6, 2018 / 5:52 PM / a year ago

Barcelona hotel income falls 14 percent in summer: trade group

Tourists sunbathe and enjoy water sports in El Arenal beach in the island of Mallorca, Spain, August 11, 2018. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

MADRID (Reuters) - Hotels in Barcelona, the capital of the Spanish region of Catalonia, saw revenue fall 14 percent this summer, a trade association said on Thursday, saying the city had developed a negative reputation internationally.

Tourism accounts for around 11 percent of economic output and the sector is Spain’s biggest employer, but a fall in the number of visitors in the key month of July suggested growth may be peaking after several record years.

Hotels in the sea-front city saw occupancy rates slip only fractionally in the period but a 7 percent cut in prices in July and a 19 percent reduction in August dragged down takings.

By contrast, the average spend of international tourists in Spain as a whole rose 9.5 percent in July.

Trade group Gremi d’Hotels de Barcelona criticized city hall’s approach to tourism and warned that the city’s image had been damaged by a deterioration in public safety, rising anti-social behavior and insufficient cleaning in public spaces.

Group president Jordi Clos highlighted a reported assault by a street vendor on a tourist from the United States and an increase in crimes like watch thefts in hotel doorways.

He also laid blame on political instability - in an apparent reference to a secession bid which led Madrid to impose direct rule last year - airport strikes and the memory of a deadly terrorist attack last August.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Jesús Aguado and Kirsten Donovan

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