Andalucía, including the Costa del Sol, is showcasing its attractions for tourists at the large Fitur travel fair in Madrid until Sunday. Fitur is one of the big three annual international tourism fairs in Europe, along with the World Travel Market in London and the ITB in Berlin. It is a key date in the promotional calendar , with more emphasis on Spanish and Latin American destinations.
As usual mayors, councillors and regional ministers, along with marketing bosses from hotels and tourist attractions, flocked to the Ifema centre on Wednesday for the first day.
The fair was officially opened by Queen Letizia, who spent several hours touring the national and international stands.
Andalucía, as usual, has the biggest stand, 5,300 square metres, reflecting the importance of tourism to the local economy. Regional president, Juanma Moreno, said in his opening address that 420,000 people are employed in tourism in Andalucía. He also spent part of Wednesday introducing the Queen to exhibitors from the region.
"Malaga province makes up over 50 per cent of Andalusian tourism, Your Majesty," explained Moreno, "Really?" said the Queen, surprised.
This year a key theme from speeches and events held around the Andalucía stand has been the need to increase the amount tourists spend rather than volume, the so-called 'quality tourism'.
There was also talk of sustainability, with the regional minister for Tourism, Juan Marín, saying for the first time they were measuring the carbon footprint of their presence at the show.
While regional bosses were optimistic about visitor numbers this coming year, the provincial tourist board, Costa del Sol Tourism, was more cautious. It suggested that the destination had to prepare for a possible slowdown in the economy.