It has been three years since the Caminito del Rey became a top-level tourist attraction following a huge architectural redevelopment. On the third anniversary of the reopening of the walkway, the provincial government and local mayors have taken stock of the site's development up to the present day, and the figures speak for themselves: one million visitors who have brought a hundred million euros to the region.
However, there is still a lot to do, and a challenge to be undertaken in the near future: to increase the number of visitors who stay overnight in the local area by encouraging them to lengthen their visit.
The president of the Diputación, provincial government, Elías Bendodo, met with local councillors for Ardales, Álora and Campillos on Monday to give a speech about the results of the first three years of the new Caminito. Bendodo said that the greatest success of the Caminito is “that it has become a brand, something very difficult to achieve”. For him, this “international recognition” has been fundamental to its success.
In relation to this point, Bendodo added that “65% of visitors come from abroad” with nationalities ranging across all five continents. “I'd say that the Caminito del Rey is known around the world,” he said.
The only aspect that the Diputación chief is keen to improve is the percentage of visitors who stay overnight. “Currently only 20% of visitors choose to stay locally. This is something that we hope to increase in the future.” He highlighted that in Álora and Ardales there are 350 hotels with a capacity of 5,000 beds. The infrastructure exists, he says, it just needs to be promoted. “There are three or four days' worth of activities in the local area, and that's what we have to aim for.” He referenced the traditional cuisine offered in the region as an example of something that should be better promoted.
The mayor of Ardales, María del Mar González, said that the cultural offerings of the town (the Bobastro ruins and the prehistoric caves, among others) have seen an increasing number of visitors in the last three years, as a result of the popularity of the Caminito.
The mayor of Álora, José Sánchez, added that since the Caminito opened, the number of hotel beds available for visitors to the town has increased “from 600 to 1,200”, which has helped to boost economic growth.
Francisco Guerrero, councillor for Campillos, supported the involvement of his town in the plan for economic development, stating that it would be “very beneficial”. There are several planned works in the local area, including a new roundabout outside the visitor centre.