The Andalucía stand at a previous WTM. SALVADOR SALAS
The tourism authorities and professionals on a national, regional, provincial and local level are gearing up for one of the most important promotional opportunities of the year.
At the Excel centre in London, representatives of tourist destinations around the world make the most of four days of business, each trying to attract more British tourists to their countries.
Among them is a huge delegation from southern Spain, where the majority of foreign tourists come from the UK.
This year the Andalusian tourism authority, Turismo Andaluz, occupies 27 stands (covering 553 square metres), of which nine are devoted to the Costa del Sol.
Once again this year SUR in English is helping the tourism authorities promote southern Spain. A full colour supplement is distributed from the newspaper’s own stand at the fair, informing delegates and professionals about all the region has to offer.
The regional head of Tourism, Rafael Rodríguez, explained last week that their priority this year is to generate more business through negotiations that lead to more British tourists coming to the area and higher hotel occupancy figures.
He pointed out that this year the region was going to London on the back of already positive results after two years of growth. So far this year British tourism in Andalucía has increased by between seven and eight per cent.
We can do even better
However the region is determined to do even better. Rodríguez said that there is much more scope to attract visitors from the UK to Andalucía. The delegation from the region includes not only authorities from the Junta de Andalucía but also representatives from the region’s eight tourist boards (among them the Costa del Sol) and 200 professionals who have meetings planned with 700 intermediaries, tour operators and airlines.
As ever filling more hotel beds in the low season is one of their main objectives.
“We want to push for ways of bringing tourists in all year round,” said Rodríguez.
The Andalusian delegation will also be joined by the new president of the Junta, Susana Díaz.
The president of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board, Elías Bendodo, explained that their strategy this year was to promote the Malaga coastline as one big resort that encompasses everything: leisure, golf, culture, events and congresses, inland and outdoor activities, language learning trips and luxury facilities as well as being a cruise destination.
Meanwhile the provincial authority ia taking advantage of the WTM as a showcase for its ‘Living Costa del Sol’ project, which has increased property sales to foreigners by 33 per cent.
Malaga sets itself apart from the rest with a stand of its own
This year Malaga is the only Spanish city with a stand all to itself at the World Travel Market. The local councillor for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Damián Caneda, stressed that while their space was smaller than last year’s, it was essential to set the city apart from the Costa as a tourist destination for culture and language-learning holidays, for city breaks and as a cruise port. Hotel stays in the city are up this year by 20 per cent.