Catalan economy grows by 0.8% in first quarter of 2018
Tourism spending also recovers after drop in final months of last year
The Catalan economy grew by 0.8% in the first quarter of 2018. In yearly terms, the country’s GDP grew by 3.3% registering a higher increase than that of the Euro zone as a whole (2.5%) and Spain (2.9%).
According to Catalonia's Ministry of Economy, the positive results share a correlation with the labour market, where there has been a growth in social security affiliation of 3.7% and a rise in employment volume of 3.3%.
This growth in the first quarter of the year continues the positive trend seen in 2017 when the Catalan economy grew by 3.4%.
The services sector demonstrated an annual growth of 2.6%, however there was a certain slowdown in growth in the industrial sector after a strong advancement in the previous quarter. Even so, its growth value increased by 5.1% on a year-on-year rate. This was lower than growth in the previous three months, which stood at 6.4% (above 2017’s annual average of 4.9%). Despite this, growth in the industrial sector in Catalonia continues to be higher than that of the Euro zone, according to the figures released by the Catalan Statistics Institute (Idescat), the Ministry of Economy and the Spanish treasury.
Construction remains stable at a high level. Its annual growth was set at 6.4%, matching the last quarter. These figures had not been since 2006. However the agricultural and fishing sectors came out with more negative results than previous quarters.
Tourism sector recovers
The data has also shown a recovery in foreign tourist spending, after the negative results in the last months of 2017. Indeed, tourism expenditure increased by 10.4% in the first quarter of 2018.
In January, the secretary-general of the UN’s World Tourism Organization (WTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, stated that tourism in Catalonia had decreased by between 15% and 20% in the final quarter of last year.
This decrease in tourism coincided with the political turmoil last autumn, including the Spanish police violence during the October 1 independence referendum and the declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament on October 27. In the summer, Catalonia also suffered two terrorist attacks in Barcelona and the coastal town of Cambrils.
Despite the drop in tourism, Pololikashvili demonstrated optimism that the number of tourists arriving at the beginning of 2018 “will grow.” As it turns out, his prediction was right.