We're not the only ones in the world

Tourism is so important for this region and the figures are increasing every year, with “record-breaking” appearing in numerous news headlines. However the industry knows it can't sit back on its laurels as the rising fugures won't automatically continue their upward course for ever.

Figures are rising but the external conditions that have favoured the Costa del Sol in the past few years are only temporary. Professionals have been reminded this week at the World Travel Market that the competition for the British tourism market from countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey is recovering.

It's not enough to have a beautiful region, attractive beaches, a generous supply of tourist accommodation and infrastructure. The success of the industry has to be worked at and the current positive climate is down to professionals and authorities knowing how over the years to make the most of the area's unquestionable natural assets to make the cogs turn in the motor of the province's economy.

Three days at the WTM in London, however, prove that the success of the Costa del Sol's tourism is not fortuitous and if now it's more important than ever to be able to compete with other Mediterranean rivals, this area has all the resources and experience to do so.

Just as real tourism is unlikly to be replaced by the virtual variety, however realistic this may become over the next few years, from the atmosphere at the ExCel centre this week it's clear that business in the tourism industry is still best done face-to-face, despite the global communications technology available.

The many meeting booths and tables set up in the areas representing the different countries at the WTM have been busy non-stop with professionals sharing information, negotiating and shaking hands over deals that will make a difference, big or small, to the numbers of visitors at a hotel, resort and region.

This happens in good times and bad, but the warning from ABTA this week about the revival of Mediterranean competition is not such a bad thing. The authorities have said they want quality, year-round tourism and loyal tourists. Now's the time to review what they hve to offer them in the light of competition that has undoubtely been preparing for its revival with care.