Andalucía expects to reach the figure of 30 million tourists in 2018, despite the drop in British visitors to the region. The figure was announced by regional president, Susana Díaz, at the opening day of the World Travel Market in London.
The fair, where Andalucía joins tourist destinations from around the world in a bid to attract the British tourist market, was attended by more than 150 professionals from the region’s tourism industry, all of them with full programmes of meetings to make the most of the three-day event.
The reappearance on the market of rival Mediterranean destinations such as Turkey or Egypt is considered one of the main causes of the 2.9% fall in British guests in Andalusian hotels in the first nine months of this year, leaving the total at 1.2 million.
Despite this fall, however, Díaz said that this year Andalucía would reach the 30 million tourist milestone in 2018, a target that was originally set for 2020.
“With these figures, Andalucía receives 3.5 times its own population,” said Díaz, who praised the work of the regional tourism department, led by Francisco Javier Fernández, and the good coordination between the authorities and the private sector.
The president announced new campaigns to strengthen the promotion of Andalucía in the UK, with marketing campaigns in London, Manchester and Leeds next February, further opportunities for local business owners to meet with British tour operators.
The president stressed the importance of the World Travel Market for Andalucía as 24% of the foreign visitors to southern Spain are British. The diversity of the destination and the good communications are what have helped mantain the average length of stay for British tourists at 9.6 days; the average daily spend has also stayed as high as 70 euros and the British tourist’s average score given for the region is 8.4 out of ten. This high score is what, according to the president, is helping “maintain tourist loyalty in these times of uncertainty”.
The president of the Costa del Sol tourist board, Elías Bendodo, joined the mayors of the main tourist destinations on the coast’s own space for the first time at the WTM this year, rather than just having a stand in the Andalucía section.
Bendodo was optimistic about the British tourist figures, highlighting an increase of 15% in the number of seats on flights between Malaga and British airports this winter.
The Malaga city councillor for Tourism, María del Mar Martín Rojo, confirmed the good forecasts for British tourists visiting the city, despite the negative figures elsewhere in the region. An increase of 5% of visitors is expected this year, said the councillor.
The Spanish minister for Tourism, Reyes Maroto, was also in London on Monday, visiting the stands for Spain, Andalucía, the Costa del Sol and Malaga.
SUR in English also has its own stand at the World Travel Market, presenting its special Southern Spain supplement, produced especially for the fair but also available to readers in Spain with a copy of this week's newspaper.
Copies of this supplement also appeared in London inside copies of City AM on Monday, treating commuters to a dose of sunshine on a chilly autumn morning.