A study by one of the leading names in the travel industry has painted a rosy picture of the future of the luxury tourism market.
The report was carried out for Madrid-based Amadeus, the world's largest travel agents' reservation system.
According to the analysis, using data from consultancy, Oxford Economics, the luxury travel segment of the tourist market, which is particularly important to parts of the Costa del Sol, will grow by six per cent over the next few years, as a new type of high-end traveller, who values experiences above buying consumer goods, starts to emerge.
The report says that 64 per cent of demand for luxury trips worldwide is still made up of residents from Europe and North America, despite these areas only making up 18 per cent of the global population. A luxury tourist is defined as someone earning over 150,000 US dollars annually.
Asia is expected to be the biggest growth area for luxury travellers, as average incomes grow on that continent. Singapore, Thailand and Philippines are seen as key emerging markets.
The study, which looks ahead as far as 2025, also points to a resurgence in the Russian market after a decline in 2013-15. Below average growth is expected from tourists from oil-producing countries that are a traditional source of wealthy visitors to Spain, such as Kuwait, although other Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt and Iran, are expected to become more important.
Among the key future trends in luxury travel, the report highlights the expected growth in demand for exclusive experiences for people to spend their money on, rather than high spending on luxury products.
Marbella at centre of market
Marbella is the Costa's main centre for luxury tourism and, outside Madrid and Barcelona, is the area of Spain where most money is spent on exclusive goods.
The provincial tourist board, Turismo Costa del Sol, has emphasised the importance to Marbella of being chosen to host a networking conference with Virtuoso travel agents at the end of this year. Virtuoso is the market-leading association of luxury travel agents in North America with 11,400 members.