Europe -  Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona has become a favourite short-break leisure destination in line with cities such as Paris, London and Amsterdam. It has a wealth of cultural attractions, including a well-preserved medieval centre, and it has a reputation for being a centre of modern and avant-garde art. Culturally speaking, the city boasts an enormous heritage of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, as well as other notable Catalan artists such as Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. Barcelona is also an important banking and financial centre, and its transport links and proximity to France have helped to attract considerable foreign investment. In addition, Barcelona is a growing centre for meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) business and it is becoming an increasingly important port of call for cruise ships.

Tourism arrivals have been growing at a steady pace over the last few years (a 7% increase in airport arrivals in 2017), but tourism might soon face a cap as Barcelona is flooded each summer by day trippers from nearby beach destinations and cruise ships.

In May 2015, Ada Colau was elected as the new mayor of the city of Barcelona. Leading a coalition of environmentalists and social activists, she announced that the city’s tourism strategy would change radically to ensure more ‘quality tourism’. As a first step, in July 2015 the mayor placed a moratorium on approving new hotel developments and short-term rentals; this tourist moratorium was extended in 2016 for an additional year. Eventually, in March 2017, the moratorium was substituted by the Special Tourist Accommodation Plan (PEUAT), which had been approved by Full Council on 27 January 2017. The PEUAT sustains the purpose of the moratorium, regulating the introduction of tourist accommodation establishments, as well as youth hotels, collective residences with temporary accommodation and tourist apartments. According to Ms Colau, this regulation will allow for a sustainable and responsible tourism model and will reduce the pressure on the most saturated neighbourhoods of the city.

The city’s tourism and hotel market was hit by the global financial downturn; however, it was able to recover quicker than other Spanish markets. As a result, marketwide RevPAR only experienced a decrease in 2008 and 2009, and since then has been increasing at an average rate of around 5%, powered by increases in both occupancy and average rate. RevPAR changes in 2015 and 2016 were especially significant, at around 10% each year. Given the current social and political situation in Catalonia, with the increase of the independence movement, the hotel sector was slightly hit in 2017. Hotels in Barcelona experienced substantial performance declines following the Catalan Independence Referendum on 1 October, mainly due to the instability generated by several riots and disturbances in the city; however, 2017 managed to achieve record results overall. Going forward, 2018 performance is expected to recover as long as the political situation does not create any further public unrest or demonstrations.

Given the current aforementioned PEUAT, the pipeline situation in Barcelona remains uncertain. The few projects that have planning permission will enter the market in 2018 and 2019, with the future for new hotels thereafter remaining uncertain. Furthermore, illegal tourism rental apartments might soon face heavy fines or closure, which will further decrease the accommodation capacity of the city. To a certain extent, this could be beneficial for existing hotels.

One of the most notable single-asset transactions in Barcelona in 2017 was the 430-room Hilton Diagonal Mar, which was bought from Iberdrola by AXA Real Estate in November.

Change In Value For Market: (€Euro)

Significant Value Increase: Greater than +10%
Moderate Value Increase: Between +3% and +10%
Stable Values: Between -3% and +3%
Moderate Value Decline: Between -3% and -10%
Significant Value Decline: Less than -10%

Barcelona RevPAR Change (€Euro)

Barcelona RevPAR (€Euro)

For more information, please contact:

Sophie Perret, MRICS, MBA
[email protected]
  • +44 20 7878 7722 (w)
Simon Hulten
[email protected]
  • +44 020 7878-7775 (w)