CORK travel agent Pat Dawson of Dawson Travel is visiting Catalonia to assess the situation on the ground for tourists as the Irish Travel Agents Association issues advice to Irish holidaymakers.
The advice follows the action taken by Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, to impose direct rule on Catalonia after the region officially declared independence from Spain last week.
The move by the Spanish Government has sparked fear that there will be civil unrest and violence across Spain in the coming days and weeks and Irish tourists have been warned that it could affect them.
“We are in Valencia for a conference anyway and we are going to the region to have a walk around and see what is going on,” Mr Dawson said.
“We will advise the media and our members in a few days of what we think.
“We will report particularly if there is anything worrying out there, which we don’t expect to find, but you never know with political unrest.”
Tourists are advised to avoid demonstrations, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Mr Dawson said that while there have been no reports of issues involving Irish tourists so far, numbers travelling to the area are down.
“Looking at figures throughout Europe, Barcelona flights over the last ten days are down about 24% year on year, so it certainly affecting the city in particular,” he said.
“We have nobody who has been out there and had any issue whatsoever, none at all. Many Irish people travel over to see Barcelona FC play and there have been no issues there.
“But I suppose when something like this happens, it is unsettling and people say ‘I have other options, I will go somewhere else.’”
He hopes to see the situation stabilise but acknowledged that may not happen.
“It depends on what happens in the next week or so.
“We are being led to believe it will quiet down, but who knows? Nobody expects any turmoil or anything like that but you just don’t know in volatile situations.”