Perhaps the Mayor will pay attention to this story, because it affects the pockets of the hotel owners in Barcelona.
Barcelona lost visitors, Mr Mayor, it lost visitors, bednights, airport taxes paid, taxis hired, beers bought, trinkets purchased. It lost money. Why?
People were afraid of being robbed in Barcelona.
Here’s the story, from our contributor Don Simon:
“The international company I work for – headquartered in Oslo – wanted to have a conference recently. I was asked if Barcelona would be suitable for the conference (for 40 people from Norway, the UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Russia, the Middle East and Asia) and I said that probably almost half the attendees would be robbed.
I mentioned that I had been robbed in Barcelona (wallet stolen on the metro, as well as several “Ronaldinho“ attempts) and several friends had also been robbed in Barcelona despite being fairly streetwise and knowing the city (one friend was followed into the entry foyer of his hotel and had his jacket taken from him by force, with a mobile phone and wallet inside). Another colleague mentioned that he had visited Barcelona with friends and members of their party had been robbed on three separate occasions. The boss said ‘Lisbon it is’.
Forty of us stayed three nights in a four-star hotel in Lisbon. Many of us arrived at different times from different destinations so more than 20 taxis were used from the airport (and back). We used the hotel conference rooms and catering, as well as several other restaurants and bars in the city in the evenings. Almost all the staff used free time to go shopping/sightseeing/eating/drinking. We all took a guided tour of the city. I would estimate the company spent about €1,000 euros per head, plus there was personal spending, so I’d say a total of about €50,000 was lost to Barcelona. Most of the staff took connecting flights to Lisbon from European hubs with TAP Portugal, so that’s another consideration, as Spanish and Catalan airline carriers weren’t used.
No one was robbed in Lisbon.”
We at “Robbed in Barcelona” have also seen evidence (scroll down to “Tom Thumb on October 20, 2011 at 10:49 am) of a separate company, which did not open an office in Barcelona for the same reason. The boss’s wife was held-up with a knife while her husband was looking for a suitable office to employ 40 people. They chose elsewhere. Forty people would have helped Catalunya’s crippled economy.