Promotional activities aim to attract attention in central London. / salvador salas

London buses, golf and China feature heavily on a busy day for Andalucía at the World Travel Market

The major tourism fair is in full swing and everything is looking positive and things smell sweet as the region, Malaga city and the Costa del Sol publicise their many attractions

Pilar Martínez
PILAR MARTÍNEZ LONDON.

People in the UK are prepared to give up their gym membership, forgo meals out and buy fewer clothes in order to save money in these uncertain times, but they are reluctant to give up their holidays according to Mark Tanzer, executive director of ABTA. This is excellent news for Andalucía and the Costa del Sol and it reinforces the message that representatives have been receiving at the World Travel Market in London this week.

“Our expectations are good, despite the complicated macroeconomic scenario in Europe in general,” remarked the Junta de Andalucía’s Minister for Tourism, Arturo Bernal, who has been holding numerous meetings with contacts and associations in the sector.

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He also announced that IAGTO, an association of 2,314 golf tourism operators, complexes, hotels, airlines and commercial partners in 90 countries, plans to come to the region every two years for its annual meeting. The association’s president, Peter Walton, said golf tourism in Andalucía now exceeds 2019 levels and even rose by 5% at the height of the pandemic. “These travellers are not affected by economic instability in the country,” he said.

Golf tourism is of special importance to the region as visitors who come for golfing holidays spend twice as much as other tourists on average.

Sights set on China

Although the UK is the biggest source market for tourism in Andalucía, the Junta also took advantage of the WTM to hold meetings with representatives from long-haul destinations including China. At a meeting with Xiao Yi Zhang, the director in Spain of the Ctrip operator, a route map began to be drawn up for Andalucía to recover within two years the million Chinese tourists who used to come before the pandemic.

Andalucía will focus on marketing in five big cities in China, each with between 20 and 30 million inhabitants, and is also working on direct flights between China and Malaga.

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Fragrant photos

Meanwhile, the Costa del Sol Tourist Board has also been planning promotional campaigns in London, which include pioneering photographic exhibitions where the images exude fragrances associated with the destination, such as blossom. The president of Turismo Costa del Sol, Francisco Salado, said these work by bringing back memories of previous holidays and are proven to be effective.

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The mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, has also been promoting the city in London this week, and two City Sightseeing London buses now carry posters inviting people to visit the city in which Picasso was born. “We wanted to reach the heart of London,” De la Torre said, and three million people are expected to see the publicity.

Nor is Malaga alone in this type of promotion: two other buses in London are advertising the ‘Endless Summer’ in Torremolinos, and the mayor, Margarita del Cid, said the council is also working with Jet2.com on a joint campaign to attract more British visitors to the world-famous resort on the Costa del Sol.