Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport. / ÑITO SALAS

Andalucía expects to attract 26 million tourists next year, 81% of those it received before the coronavirus pandemic

The Junta’s Deputy Minister of Tourism made the forecast during a virtual conference and said the region should focus on attracting quality rather than quantity

PILAR MARTÍNEZ

The Junta's Deputy Minister of Tourism, Manuel Alejandro Cardenete, has said that he expects Andalucía to attract 26 million tourists next year, a figure that amounts to 81% of those who arrived in 2019.

During a virtual forum organised by the Confederation of Andalusian Entrepreneurs (CEA) under the title 'Reconnection with the tourism market ', Cardenete made it clear that the challenge is not to reach the 32 million level that arrived before the pandemic, but to move to a model that prioritises quality over quantity in a new stage that requires more sustainability, digitisation and one where safety is standard. Cardenete said, however, that he believes the tourism sector in Andalucía will return to the levels of activity before the crisis in the second half of 2022. Meanwhile, he also revealed that 2021 will close with 63 per cent of the travellers received in 2019, some 21 million tourists.

Diverse offer

President of the CEA Tourism Council, Miguel Sánchez, told the forum that “Andalucía is the only destination in the world with such a diverse offer. But he said that it is important that European funds arrive soon because 2021 has not turned out as we expected. It is true that we need digitisation and modernisation, but for this we need funds, which we don’t have," he said.

Refine the offer

The Junta’s Secretary General for Tourism, Manuel Muñoz, announced some news that will be included in the 2022 Action Plan, “We are going to base the strategy on two markets: the Spanish, which has saved us this year and which must continue to keep this flame alive; and the European, which is not going through its best moment but which will be key due to its proximity. But it is also necessary to refine our offer when to make the leap to distant markets, such as the American one, which we should not and cannot forget. We will invite professionals come to Andalucía and see the destination first-hand. We will hold four or five forums with British, German, Scandinavian and central European operators, which will be launched from February. We also want to encourage tourism congresses in Andalucía," he added.

Red carpet for visitors

The director of Malaga airport, Pedro Bendala, shared this confidence in the future of the travel sector but warned that whoever moves faster will win the game. “Today's situation is temporary. We continue working with the same enthusiasm and forecasts for the summer. The airlines say that we are going to have a reasonable summer.”

Menawhile, the director of Ríos Travel, Julio García, stressed that “there is no reason not to go to 2019 figures next summer, and even better if mobility is ensured. But it is very important to get our house in order; the destination, the airport, the port, the cities and towns and the hotels. We have to put out the red carpet for the visitor. Our nearest markets are going to be the most important. The independent tourist will also be essential. The future is good, it will be very good and it is only a matter of improving mobility. In addition, he considered that “the Covid effect helps us to put ourselves on a different level than competitors like Turkey. We should not be afraid of the price factor or the competition.”