Andalucía and the Costa del Sol come away smiling from the World Travel Market
After the three-day World Travel Market in London this week, tourism business owners and professionals agreed that this had been the most successful edition of the fair for the last ten years. They returned to Andalucía more satisfied and reassured than they expected, they said, having secured business not just for next summer but also for the winter of 2017-18.
The Andalusian minister for Tourism and Sport, Francisco Javier Fernández, caught his flight back toSeville equally optimistic. “I’m leaving London happy, satisfied and reassured. At this fair, which is key for our destination and essential for the sector, we have cleared up a lot of uncertainties,” he said, referring to the new Brexit scenario that had raised concern over a potential change in British tourist trends.
“The British tour operators have clearly shown us the way we need to go and they have confirmed their firm commitment to our destination with forecasts of continued growth,” he said.
The strength of the British market, by far the most important source of international tourists for southern Spain, has played a key role in the record-breaking figures for this year and the Andalusian delegation has been keen to note any advice from tour operators.
“The British professionals insist on the need for us to diversify our offer and create new products,” continued the Andalusian minister. “This is something that we will continue to work on and that is easy in a region such as ours where we can combine the best sun, sea and sand with snow, inland natural beauty, golf and cuisine,” he added.
Nearly 300 tourism professionals went to London this week and at times queues formed at the desks set up for them in the Andalusian section of the WTM.
The growing popularity of Malaga as a tourist destination in itself was evident from the interest generated at the city’s stand and boosted by the changing trends in the way the British organise their holidays. The tour operators pointed out that more people are choosing to take several shorter holidays rather than one long trip. This has contributed to the greater demand for city breaks
This week, the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, announced a specific promotion plan aimed at the British market to counteract any negative effects of Brexit. Forecasts point to the city receiving a total of 100,000 visitors in 2016 and this week’s meetings in London were aimed at keeping these numbers up.
The president of the Costa del Sol tourism authority, Elías Bendodo, shared the satisfaction expressed by the sector’s professionals. “The impression we are taking home with us from the WTM is that the good forecasts we had for the British tourist market have been confirmed by tour operators and airlines,” he said.
The World Travel Market got off to a good start for Andalucía on Monday when the president of the Junta, Susana Díaz, announced that 2016 was due to break the 50-million mark in terms of nights spent in hotels by tourists.
“We underestimated ourselves. In the end we’re going to exceed the most optimistic forecasts,” said Díaz, who also cited the increase in tourists from the UK at 17 per cent and the rise in employment creation through tourism at 5.4 per cent, reaching around 378,200 jobs in the sector.
Díaz also announced that Andalucía would invest 15 per cent more to strengthen the brand in the British market and to create new products to combat the possible effects of the UK’s exit from the European Union.
Wine, ham and information
This year SUR inEnglish shared its stand at the World Travel Market with El Pimpi, the iconic Malaga bodega bar, which acts as a magnet for both locals and tourists. Visitors and friends of this newspaper were able to stop at the stand, pick up a copy of the special supplements on Andalucía, Malaga and Seville, and sample freshly-sliced ham and cheese and sweet wine.source surinenglish