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Optimism for Andalusian destinations on the opening day of the World Travel Market in London

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Susana Díaz (right) and Francisco de la Torre (second right) in front of the SUR in English stand. / Salvador Salas

  • Regional president Susana Díaz announced a predicted six per cent increase in British visitors to the area, a figure that rises to 20 in the city of Malaga

The opening of the World Travel Market (WTM) in London on Monday was met with plenty of enthusiasm, a strong indicator that the British market remains very active - a positive sign for tourism to Andalucía.

President of regional government, Susana Díaz, opened the region's stand and announced predicted record figures for this period, with more than 29.4 million visitors and more than 52 million overnight stays in hotels. "We are expecting good results because Andalucía is showing its best side, its strength, its quality and its diversity. This is fundamental in progressing through new niches in the market," she said, stressing the importance of attracting British visitors with greater purchasing power.

The region's minister for tourism, Francisco Javier Fernández, added that Andalucía expects to welcome six per cent more visitors from Britain next year.

Shortly afterwards, the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, in front of his city's own stand, said that Malaga expects to attract 20 per cent more British tourists next year, with the city already attracting 22 per cent more in the first nine months of the year.

President of Turismo Costa del Sol, Elías Bendodo, is more cautious, however, and believes that now is the time to stop and think and analyse the competing markets, which are also growing fast. He also points to the collapse of Monarch Airlines and the fact that many of the 400,000 British holidaymakers whose plans were left up in the air are yet to rebook with other companies. What's more, flight bookings up until January are down by 13 per cent on the previous year.

The Minister of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda, Álvaro Nadal, for his part wanted calm fears over the possible effects of both Brexit and the situation in Calatonia, and stated his optimism with regards to the British market in 2018. "It's still early to talk about numbers, but there are many reasons to be optimistic," he said.

With a large number of businesspeople and mayors from the Costa del Sol present, chiefs from Malaga city, the port, Turismo Costa del Sol and the Junta signed off on a deal with the Thomson Cruises, which will move 90,000 passengers, with Malaga the home port. President of the port authority, Paulino Plata, described this as "a very important agreement".