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Flickr pic, by Joachim S. Müller

Spain’s tourism industry is bracing itself for a painful slowdown in bookings this summer, driven by a steep decline in local tourism due to economic crisis. Reservations by Spanish vacationers for July are 30% lower than last year. Hoteliers are concerned that govt may raise the industry’s value-added tax to 18% from the current 8% to reduce its yawning budget deficit, making Spain less attractive to foreign tourists compared with other less expensive destinations.

Meanwhile, hotel industry mouthpiece HotelNewsNow says something completely opposite: Figures from the Barcelona Hotel Association for Q1 2012 show a year-on-year hike in roomnights of nearly 3% (from 3,004,285 to 3,092,263), while the number of visitors rose by 2.4% from 1,510,150 to 1,546,688. Tourism Barcelona, the official tourism promotion body, said average occupancies rose from 74.8% in 2010 to 77.5% in 2011. The group expects growth to continue throughout 2012 and 2013.