The ITB travel fair started in Berlin on Wednesday and runs until this Sunday, 11 March. The exhibition is one of the biggest in the world for the travel trade and each year provides an opportunity to focus on the German visitor market to Andalucía, including Malaga and the Costa del Sol. Tourists from Germany are the second biggest visitor group to southern Spain after the British.
Predictions from delegates representing local destinations on the first two days of the fair were of a rise in the number of German visitors for this coming season. Those attending were urging caution however, now that rival destinations to Spain, including Turkey, Greece and Egypt, are enjoying a recovery in demand after a recent slump driven by economic uncertainty and potential unrest from terrorism. These eastern Mediterranean competitors have traditionally attracted a lot of Germans.
Head of the Andalusian regional government's tourism promotion arm, Susana Ibáñez, said that Andalucía hoped to gain 7.4 per cent more German visitors in 2018. Speaking from Andalucía's large's stand in the exhibition hall, she said that the region “had an extraordinary positioning in Germany and a mix of products and segments that perfectly meet the very demanding requirements”. She explained that German customers “are increasingly looking for more experiences that let them immerse themselves in the culture of a destination”, adding that it was important to recognise the work being done locally to diversify the tourism offer away from the main focus on sun and sand.
Representing Tourism Costa del Sol, Malaga province's tourist board, Elías Bendodo said that he was aiming to build more loyalty from the German clients who are looking for quality above price, saying that there will be increased investment in attending trade fairs and online advertising this year.
Other resorts were wooing the customers in Berlin, including Torremolinos whose mayor emphasised the efforts being made to attract a new generation of visitors.