Friday, 10 November 2023, 16:18
The World Travel Market came to an end on Wednesday after three busy days in which all the key players in the global tourism industry were all together in one place. The huge ExCel centre in London was the venue once again for the event, where representatives of more than 180 countries met to promote their visitor destinations.
Their common aim was to secure more deals with agents and tour operators to attract their share of the millions of UK residents who travel abroad for their holidays every year.
The Andalucía stand was as big and busy as ever, with a focus on the region's ambitious new promotional campaign entitled Andalusian Crush.
Monday, the first day of the fair, was one for making announcements as top tourism authorities visited the stands of their respective regions or areas.
At the official opening of the Andalucía stand, the president of the Junta regional government, Juanma Moreno, made the first big announcement of the day. After revealing that summer tourism data had been the best in the history of the region, he stated that Andalucía is on track to end 2023 with another record: 33 million tourists in one year.
"We are heading in the right direction. There is still the final hurdle in these last couple of months of the year, but we are very optimistic," he said. Up to September the region's destinations have received 27.2 million holidaymakers, he explained. This was one million more than the all-time high in 2019.
Moreno added that between July and September this year, more than twelve million tourists visited Andalucía, the highest summer figure ever.
On Tuesday it was the turn of regional minister for tourism Arturo Bernal to come up with the figures. Andalusian destinations attracted 10 per cent more British tourists in the first nine months of 2023 and this growth is expected to continue.
"We are the Spanish destination that is growing the most on the international stage, more so than the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Catalonia," said Bernal.
The upward trend is expected to continue next year, with a forecast growth in visitors from the UK of between 10 and 15 per cent, the minister said.
Bernal also highlighted the positive figures for Andalucía in general, saying that 2023 will break records in holidaymakers, stays and income. "We are working with two scenarios for the close of this year and the most realistic is that we will reach 33.3 million tourists, some 2.4% more than prior to the pandemic, and we will exceed 22.5 billion euros of income. It is a year to congratulate the tourism industry and all its players."
Salado also offered figures for the proportion of British tourists who choose Malaga and the Costa del Sol. Of all the tourists from the UK visiting Andalucía, 70.3% stay in Malaga [province], which is the chosen destination for 9.3% of Britons visiting Spain.
Malaga accounts for 79% of UK visitors' overnight stays in Andalucía and 8.5% of the stays in Spain. As for British arrivals, 88.3% travelling to Andalucía by air do so through Malaga Airport, which is the destination for 12.5% of British visitors flying to Spain.
Next year there will be more than 20 promotional campaigns to encourage British tourists to visit the Costa del Sol, Salado added. He also pointed out the large number of flight routes between Malaga and the UK, with 14.4% more seats available this season.
Hotels along the Costa del Sol are on track to end the year on a higher note than 2019, the most successful year for tourism in Malaga province's history.
October saw an average occupancy rate of almost 84%, with November and December expected to exceed 2019 figures, according to Costa del Sol hotels association Aehcos this week.
"The October figures show an increase of more than two percentage points compared to last year. Of this, 70% of the tourists who visited the province were international, while 30% were Spanish," the organisation said.
Despite this, José Luque, president of Aehcos, pointed out the sector's concern about a reducing domestic market due to the rising cost of living in Spain.
"We are concerned about the drop in demand in the domestic market in 2023 caused by inflation, which is already having a considerable impact, as well as the Ukraine-Russia wars and the conflict in the Middle East," he added.
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