Despite the heavy rain on Saturday and general bad weather for the time of year seen throughout July, Barcelona remains popular with tourists, and authorities hope that this year will see a new record in terms of visitor numbers, helped by a successful summer (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). Even with the current financial crisis, the challenge to reach 15 million hotel nights is on; if this target is to be met, however, it would mean surpassing by a million past records that were set during more positive times. Forecasts suggest that it won't be too difficult to achieve, though, because during the first half of the year, the average occupation of hotel beds was 72 percent, a rise of 5.5 percent compared to 2010. In addition, it is reckoned that July and August will see even better figures, with up to 85 percent occupation. “Reaching 85 percent in the summer is an absolute success, because it's a very high number," explained Jordi Clos, president of the Gremi d'Hotels de Barcelona, in recent conversations with the press. "It's a very high ceiling; we've only arrived at 86 and 87 percent in very good times, that's to say, before the crisis, and then there weren't as many hotel-rooms or hotels as there are now," he said.
The Spanish Socialist party (PSOE) candidate to be the next prime minister of Spain, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, has admitted that his party had eight years to burst the property boom bubble and they didn't do it (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Talking about his time working in current prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government, Rubalcaba said that he wouldn't renounce his actions of the past, saying "I'm not going to try and make people forget that I was a minister of Zapatero." Amongst the mistakes he says the Zapatero executive made, Rubalcaba recognised that they should have done more to stop real estate speculation and reformed the financial system earlier. The former Interior minister has defended the work of the prime minister at the head of the government and said that "they haven't done him justice." He said, "It's true that now that Zapatero has announced he's leaving the frontline of politics it's as if he was guilty of everything that's happened, but all this will settled down with the passing of time."
The basketball player Kobe Bryant has said that he would listen if Regal Barcelona made him an offer to play with the team (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The star of the LA Lakers took part yesterday in various events with the football team of Barça, who are currently on tour in the US, including a charity football match alongside trainer Pep Guardiola, and an event for Turkish Airlines, which sponsors both Bryant and the Barça team. With the NBA league presently on hold due to disagreements between players and the league, and the collapse of talks between the two parties, players have been given the option to take up offers in Europe. Both a television presenter covering yesterday's events and captain of the football team, Carles Puyol, made reference to the possibility of Bryant playing with Regal. Although he was born in the US, at six years old, Bryant moved to Italy where his father, also a basketball player, had a contract with the Rieti team, so admits to feeling a connection with Europe. "My telephone is here, it's not ringing. I would play anywhere, because I grew up in Europe and I feel comfortable there. If Barça calls me and asks me to go, I'll listen to them, that's for sure," he said in response to Puyol's 'offer'. The salary negotiation would be a problem, however, due to the financial problems the club currently has.