The King and Queen of Spain visit the Andalucía stand at Fitur 2023 in Madrid./SALVADOR SALAS

The King and Queen of Spain visit the Andalucía stand at Fitur 2023 in Madrid. / SALVADOR SALAS

Andalucía expects to welcome a record 33 million tourists this year

At the launch of the Fitur 2023 international travel fair in Madrid today, the Junta president, Juanma Moreno, also announced the region wants to attract a more select tourist

Spain's International Tourism Fair (Fitur) has begun in Madrid today, Wednesday 18 January, with huge expectations in Andalucía.

The King and Queen of Spain, who inaugurated the major tourism trade event, also visited the Andalucía stand, together with the President of the regional government, Juanma Moreno, the regional minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Arturo Bernal, and the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, for the presentation of the region's new strategy.

Speaking today Moreno highlighted the strength of the destination and said that this year the community is expected to set another record in tourism by surpassing the figures for 2019 – the best year in history. The president of the Junta said, provided that there are no major unforeseen events, the predictions for 2023 are to exceed the 32.7 million visitors of 2019 and to reach 33 million travellers in the most optimistic forecast.

'A destination that does not disappoint'

"The pull of Andalucía makes it the first national destination. We want to compete, more than in numbers, in a greater share of quality and added value, in attracting a more select tourist. We are a destination that does not disappoint," Moreno said. "The aim is to win back foreign tourists. International demand grew by 572% in 2022, but this year we want to reach pre-pandemic levels," he added.

Moreno said that "we are in a year of take-off after the turbulence of the health crisis, in which expectations are growing and confidence is increasing, despite the enormous uncertainties".

He also praised the Andalusian offer at Fitur despite being unable to attend its pre-launch on Tuesday due to the problems with AVE high-speed train service. "It is a great stand in which Andalucía takes centre stage and brings together the essence of the destination. It is a diverse land, easy to fall in love with, and at this stand you will find every conceivable reason to come to the region. Culture, art, heritage, landscapes, trails, leisure, sports and gastronomy. There is an inexhaustible list of what this land has to offer," Moreno said.

Biggest stand

The Andalucía stand occupies the entire Hall Five of the Ifema exhibition centre, in Madrid, being the destination with the most space to promote its attractions and to show that it is a state-of-the-art destination. A large, colourful central aisle marks a display in which each of the eight provinces are prominently featured. Large screens show the best of the area’s natural and cultural attractions, beside a hub for entrepreneurs, and another for smart data. Visitors can also consult large tablets for general information about the region or sustainability actions being carried out.

Moreno, who was accompanied by Marifran Carazo, praised the work of the regional ministry of Tourism and the exhibitor, after thanking the King and Queen of Spain for their visit, of whom he said he is aware of the enormous affection they have for Andalucía. "It is a pleasure to receive their Majesties and to do so in this setting,” Moreno said. It is a long-awaited visit, because for several years now the royal couple have passed by the community's stand.

The president of the Junta also said that Andalucía is on the right track in relation to powering the engine of tourism in Spain and that a whole strategy has been designed for it to continue to be the driving force in the country. The fusion of tourism experiences with culture and sports, three sectors that account for 20 per cent of the region’s GDP and 25 per cent of its employment, will contribute to this. Moreno said that, in December, Andalucía was the region with the highest job creation in the country and that tourism has already exceeded the volume of active workers in 2019.

"The affiliation of workers exceeded that of 2019 by 16,000. That's a total of 272,000 people in active employment, which is a record number and the highest growth in tourism employment in Spain. There is no other sector that has grown so much in Andalucía," the Junta president said.

"Andalucía is in great shape, displaying its potential and its qualities and thinking so that everyone who wants to be a little happier will find their place in this destination. I invite the world to come to the south of the south, of Europe and of Spain," Moreno said. He also praised the work of tourism professionals, their capacity for reinvention and highlighted the affability and hospitality of the Andalucían people.

Optimism was also evident in the stand of the Costa del Sol and the city of Malaga, where the heads of these administrations and businessmen agree that there is a great deal of enthusiasm due to the great response of national tourism in recent years. The president of Costa del Sol Tourism, Francisco Salado, said that this is the first time that more than 600 businessmen have attended this tourism event, considered one of the three most important in the world.

"It is another example of the strength of a destination that concentrates almost half of the tourist weight of all of Andalucía," Salado said. After taking stock of the previous year in which the province has achieved a new record in domestic tourist arrivals, with 6.2 million, 10 per cent more than in 2019, Salado said that progress is being made in the commitment to quality rather than quantity. He highlighted the fact that despite fewer travellers, more overnight stays and more income has been achieved.