Barcelona still a tourism hot spot despite attacks

Hotels in Barcelona say booking not badly affected

A tourist magnet in Spain, Barcelona is working to reassure future visitors in the hope that last week's rampage will not impact a key sector of its economy.

Rooms are scarce and prices are sky-high next week due to the expected arrivals of some 30,000 doctors for a cardiology congress from Aug 26 to 30.

The tourism sector sees the event as its first test since the vehicle attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils that killed 15 people and wounded more than 120.

"There is some anxiety because (the attacks) are obviously not a positive point," said Mr Jose Luis Zoreda, executive vice-president at industry lobby group Exceltur. But he did not expect "any catastrophe".

Last year, the city's 1.6 million residents were heavily outnumbered by an estimated 30 million visitors.

The tourism sector accounts for 12 per cent to 14 per cent of its gross domestic product.

The Rialto hotel, located about 100m from the spot on Las Ramblas where the van used to mow down pedestrians came to a stop, received just five cancellations after the attack.

The W Barcelona hotel also had a few cancellations but bookings have "stabilised in recent hours", said its director-general Stijn Oyen. - AFP