Ambassador Ricardo Peidró Conde. SUR
Spanish Consul General in St Petersburg, Ricardo Peidró, who holds the rank of Ambassador of Spain, believes that the future augurs well for the Costa del Sol as a destination favoured by Russian tourists and property buyers. Speaking just days before SUR’s promotional event organised to coincide with the Malaga-Zenit Champions League match, Peidró stressed that the climate, lifestyle and hospitality of this area are highly valued by Russians, both holiday-makers and those wanting to live on the Malaga coastline. In fact growth in Russian visitors is expected to continue in double figures next year, after the recent increase of 42 per cent.
Russian tourists are emerging as an important market for Spanish holiday destinations, among them the Costa del Sol. Why is this?
The figures speak for themselves. It’s significant that we have reached Russian tourist number one million and this symbolic honour fell to a passenger who had chosen the Costa del Sol. The number of visas confirms the rise in Russian tourists. This year’s figures are almost double those of previous years. The market has grown exponentially, not just in terms of arrivals but also in spending, which is 30 per cent higher than that of the average tourist in Spain.
How do you see the evolution of the Russian market on the Costa del Sol, where growth this year is 42 per cent.
The figure you have given coincides exactly with the increase in visa applications. As this is still a requirement the numbers are easy to calculate, although I’m confident that in the future this regime will change. As far as next year is concerned I’m convinced that the growth rate will continue. Today’s traveller is no longer the Russian that years ago was associated with the rich and powerful, but belongs to the new and growing middle class with spending power and a desire to travel. What’s more the increase in Russian tourism in Spain has benefitted other sectors of the economy. It’s anecdotal but now it’s more common to find Spanish products in the supermarkets due to a demand from tourists who have enjoyed the food in Spain. There is also a growing interest in learning about the culture and the language.
What are Russian visitors looking for on the Costa del Sol?
The main attraction is the climate, but what sets the Costa del Sol apart is the concept of open air culture that Russians appreciate so much. When you speak to them they often mention the lifestyle of the Malaga people. They love it.
Do you think that air links should be increasing faster to keep up with the demand?
You don’t have to be an expert to know that air communication is one area that needs improving. At the moment it’s normal to have to change flights at another European airport. I think at some point low cost and traditional companies will realise that there is a market to create direct links with Spanish holiday destinations, not just from Moscow, but also St Petersburg.
This low season there are two direct flights a week between Malaga and Moscow. Could this be a way for Russians to discover the Malaga winter that is like spring for them?
Without a doubt, but the problem is that the links are concentrated in Moscow, and the majority of European countries have direct links with St Petersburg, which is the second largest city in Russia and the fourth in Europe, after London, Paris and Moscow. This is a growing market and the cultural capital of the country that has to be attended to.
What is the significance of the event organised by SUR to promote the Costa del Sol coinciding with the football match?
The event brings together members of the public administration of this part of the country as well as people from cultural and sporting circles and tourism and real estate professionals. Bear in mind that St Petersburg is the home of Russia’s political elite, including the president. It also has a great tradition of Hispanic studies. All these factors are positive for the Costa del Sol.
How great is the interest in property investment on the Costa del Sol?
Through the work carried out at the consulate we know that there are a lot of Russians who have bought a second home in Spain. Many choose the Costa del Sol because this increase in tourism to the area has opened people’s eyes to its attractions as a privileged place to stay. Add to this the fall in prices, bearing in mind that property in Moscow and St Petersburg is very expensive. And so a lot of people consider buying a home in Malaga, not just for holidays but also with a view to living there when they retire. In this area the future is promising for the Costa del Sol.