Monday, 6 November 2023
The planet's largest tourism fair, the three-day World Travel Market (WTM) in London, has begun with an intensity similar to before the Covid pandemic and with such dynamism that Andalusian destinations have forecast that 2024 will be the year the region recovers the historic number of British tourists in what is the main international market for Andalucía and the Costa del Sol.
The forecast came as tourism sector professionals flooded into London's ExCel exhibition centre on day one of the event. At the official opening of the Andalucía region's stand, the President of the Junta, Juanma Moreno, made the first big announcement of the day. After revealing the summer tourism data has been the best in the history of the region, he stated that Andalucía is heading towards the record of closing the year with 33 million tourists. "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, explaining that until September the region's destinations have received 27.2 million holidaymakers, one million more than in the historic year of 2019. In addition, he detailed that between July and September, more than twelve million visitors have chosen the region to enjoy their holidays, figures that had never been reached before.
"It is the first time that this number has been achieved. It means having received 850,000 more visitors than last year and 600,000 more than in the pre-pandemic period," he explained. But, in addition, these tourists have spent more than ever before, with the average daily spending rising to 78.70 euros, four more than previously. And as if all this were not enough to guarantee the pull of the Andalucía region, Moreno pointed out that the rating given by tourists after their stays has risen to almost outstanding, specifically, with a score of 8.8 out of ten.
The president of the Junta highlighted the importance of the British market and of the World Travel Market fair, which he said "makes London the Mecca of world tourism". Moreno said he was confident that next year this market, which accounts for 23% of international travellers, will fully recover. "Andalucía is back at cruising speed in the UK and in its positioning as a preferred destination. At the WTM crucial meetings are held with tour operators and airlines, during which we must persuade them to take the region into account for their planning".
Speaking on the subject of air connectivity, the president of the Junta announced that the two major events focused on this topic in the world will be held in Andalucía next year and in 2025. Granada will host the annual Capa Airlines Leader Summit, which will bring together 250 airlines from around the world in 2024, and Seville will host the Routes connectivity fair in Europe in 2025, which will last three days.
"Both events will potentially mean a big leap for air connectivity in Andalucía, strengthening the five airports and with an impact on the whole region with a parallel agenda. They are two extremely valuable boosts for the Andalusia brand to help us to continue to grow," he said.
With the same optimism, the president of Turismo Costa del Sol, Francisco Salado, assured that "2024 will be the year of the recovery of British tourism to the levels of the historic year of 2019" and announced that for this to happen the tourism board has planned to invest almost one million euros in the promotion of Malaga province in the United Kingdom during the next year. Salado highlighted the unbeatable position of the Costa del Sol in terms of the volume of the British market in Andalucía and Spain. "Holidaymakers from the UK staying in Malaga account for 70.3% of those in Andalucía and 9.3% of those in Spain. The overnight stays they generate are 79% of those in Andalucía and 8.5% of those in Spain. And as for British arrivals at Malaga Airport, they represent 88.3% of those in Andalucía and 12.5% of Spain," he said, adding that by 2024 Turismo Costa del Sol intends to "finish reconquering this important market". In this sense, he detailed that next year more than twenty promotional campaigns will be carried out to achieve the objective.
He also pointed out the commitment of the airlines to the destination and said that for this last final stretch of the year, the airlines are reinforcing the connections between Malaga and the United Kingdom. The president of Turismo Costa del Sol explained that they have scheduled 14.4% more seats to fly to Malaga. Specifically, he said that eight airlines will operate flights to 17 English cities or major towns until December. "The forecasts for the last three months of 2023 indicate a significant increase in the supply of seats from the British market to Malaga, which translates into about 85,000 more passengers," he said, noting that with the exception of Belfast and Southampton, which have reduced their air capacity, the rest have increased it.
London is once again in first place by a large margin, followed by Manchester, which are the two main cities in terms of passenger volume.
Salado explained that more than 668,000 seats have been offered for this period from the UK and that seven of the eight airlines have increased their offer. All except Wizzair. In contrast, Ryanair is the one that has put the most seats on the market, with an increase of 109%, followed by easyJet, Jet2.com and British Airways.
The Mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, was once again the early bird at the inauguration of the city's own stand at the WTM in London. Just when the doors opened, at ten o'clock in the morning, De la Torre had already pointed out that the capital of the Costa del Sol has seen 15% more overnight stays of British tourists than in 2019 and with an increase in the average expenditure in the destination. "We are making progress in the conquest of attracting a higher quality tourist. Malaga has been the city that has grown the most in this market, which shows the strength of a destination that is highly desired and that always tries to offer excellence," he said. This is precisely the challenge set in the United Kingdom: "to win over quality tourists".
The presentation of the World Tourism Resilience Day proclaimed by the United Nations, which will be held on 17 February in Malaga for the whole world, was also held at this stand.
The tourism sector has been supported at this year's WTM by Spain's acting Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Héctor Gómez, who highlighted the country's strength and leadership as a model of sustainable and social tourism in London. After visiting some of the main exhibitors at the fair, he said that "Spain has managed to maintain its leadership as a tourist destination in the United Kingdom after the pandemic, and we forecast that this will continue to be the case in the coming years". He highlighted sustainability and digitalisation as major challenges and pointed out that the tourism relationship between Spain and the United Kingdom is of great importance for both countries. The UK is the main source market for Spain, with more than 20% of the total number of tourists received. In the first 9 months of the year, more than 13 million British tourists arrived in Spain, 14.6% more than in the same period of 2022. In addition, he explained that "the British are also the tourists who spend the most money in Spain, around 20% of total tourist spending is from this nationality. Up to September, the British spent 15.854 billion euros, some 15% more than in the same period a year ago".
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