Spain should build up its reputation as a vacation destination, tourism minister Jose Manuel Soria said, rejecting a suggestion from the mayor of Barcelona to limit the number of visitors there.
Soria, who also oversees Spain’s industry and energy sectors, said establishing limitations on the number of people arriving in the kingdom would be like Germany curbing its automobile production.
“What we have to do is to promote our tourism offer,” he said in a Bloomberg Television interview from his Madrid office. “We don’t think it’s a good idea to establish limits.”
His comments come after Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau raised the possibility of limiting the number of people coming to Spain’s most-visited city. While the proposal has not been formalized, Colau has already moved to stop new hotel licenses for 2015.
Her decree temporarily freezing new tourism accommodation investment threatens projects that were expected to begin this year. They include the conversion for hotel use of the Agbar Tower by Hyatt Hotels Corp.
According to Soria, the mayor’s decision sends the wrong message as the kingdom gears up for what could be a record year for tourism, with 68 million people expected to arrive in Spain.
Barcelona is set to receive the most visitors. Mayor Colau is backed by the anti-austerity Podemos party.
Asked if the central government would intervene if other cities were to implement Barcelona’s idea, Soria said: “We’ll do what we have to do to incentivize tourism.”
A spokesman for the mayor of Barcelona said the freeze on new hotel licenses would not last for more than a year, and said it would provide time to study the needs of the city and would be beneficial for the tourism sector.