The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, and vice-president and regional Tourism minister, Juan Marín./SALVADOR SALAS

The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, and vice-president and regional Tourism minister, Juan Marín. / SALVADOR SALAS

2022 will be the year that British tourists return to Andalucía

Andalucía expects to receive in the first half of next year 60% of the British visitors to Spain before the pandemic

PILAR MARTÍNEZ

The World Travel Market (WTM) got under way this Monday in London, back to its face-to-face format after its virtual edition in 2020 due to the pandemic.

This year's travel trade fair has seen a significant reduction in professionals from the travel industry, with only a third of the countries that took part in 2019 and coronavirus also made its presence felt with security controls requiring a Covid certificate from all attendees.

There is a general sensation of hope, however, among the colourful stands lining the ExCel centre in London, where representatives from the world's tourism industry aim to recuperate their British tourists, the most important visitor market for numerous countries.

The Spanish contigent at this year's WTM has been formed by representatives from all levels of the tourism industry, including the minister for Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto; the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno; the vice-president of the Junta and regional Tourism minister, Juan Marín; the president of the Costa del Sol tourism authority, Francisco Salado; and the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre; along with mayors and councillors from all of the main tourist resorts on the Costa del Sol, including Marbella, Torremolinos, Mijas, Torrox, Benalmádena and Nerja.

And all of their speeches during the busy fair in London have carried the same message: the tourism industry is on its way to recovery as British holidaymakers prepare to return to their destinations.

The different authorities also coincided in saying that now is the time to reposition the Costa del Sol brands as holiday destinations of quality rather than quantity.

Their aim is not necessarily to recover the figures of 2019, but rather to attract a visitor with higher spending power who takes longer holidays.

The president of the Junta de Andalucía stressed the importance of recovering the British market as soon as possible.

"They [the British] are vital for the reactivation of tourism in Andalucía as a whole. We are working to recover the pre-pandemic situation and the signs are positive. We are going in the right direction, adn so we can be reasonably optimistic with our forecasts," he said as he inaugurated the Andalucía section of the fair.

"We are the salespeople for Andalucía. We've come to sell the great things of our land to tourists and to investors with an interest in Andalucía; we want them to come to our region," he added.

He listed some of the things that would help them sell their product. "We've lowered taxes, removed bureaucracy and we're making sure they know that we are a safe destination. What better way of creating trust than to say that 91% of our target population has been vaccinated against Covid-19."

The message to British holidaymakers was simple: now they can plan the holiday in Andalucía that they have been dreaming of for months.