Representatives of regional and local authorities at the SUR in english stand. Salvador Salas
This year’s World Travel Market at London’s Excel centre came to a close on Thursday after one of the most austere editions of the event. Nevertheless some 150 countries took part in the fair, all competing for the attention of the tourism professionals with the power of sending thousands of British visitors to their destinations. In fact some 40,000 professionals are estimated to have visited the show, along with 3,000 media representatives.
As usual the Spanish section of the exhibition centre was bustling, in particular Andalucía, whose tourism representatives were well aware of the significance of the event and the opportunities it affords. After all, Britain is the most important source of foreign visitors to southern Spain.
The tourism authorities know what a destination has to offer visitors needs to change with the times and keep up with trends. Attracting visitors with new products and holiday packages with a difference is always a challenge. This year Andalucía has promoted a new angle to foreign travel: why not combine a holiday in the sunshine with a full medical check-up or even cosmetic surgery? The health tourism trend is what led to a meeting in London between Ramón Jiménez of Antequera Golf and Jesús Burgos of the CHIP private hospital. The two firms have signed an agreement to offer tour operators health tourism packages. These consist of a one or two week stay in which the visitor can enjoy the facilities of a luxury hotel combined with golf, cultural visits and medical treatment at CHIP, which could range from cosmetic surgery to weight loss treatment or a full medical check-up.
There was good news for Andalucía when tour operators confirmed that while British tourists still value a holiday destination with fine weather and beaches, they are also looking for something more. This is where southern Spain comes in with a whole range of offers on the table, many designed to attract visitors with a higher than average spending power. Deals have been made with tour operators specialising in different sectors of tourism, from golf and outdoor sports, to cultural holidays, language learning visits and inland tours.
British professionals stressed Andalucía’s potential to satisfy their clients’ demands. Many see this region as the perfect holiday destination in which to enjoy experiences closely linked to local traditions. from visiting a market to an old olive oil mill, explained Salvatore Maniscalco, the head of Marketing at Ramblers, Britain’s leading operator offering hiking packages all over the world.
The city of Malaga used the World Travel Market as a showcase in which to introduce a new tourism product that combines culture and nature. Christened ‘Las mil y una noches’ (A thousand and one nights), the package combines visits to city monuments and museums with activities in the Montes de Malaga natural park and a trip to Ronda.