Outside the ExCel centre, in London, where the WTM was being held. / SALVADOR SALAS

Getting things right

Andalucía once again proved that it's the go-to destination for any type of tourist

RACHEL HAYNES

Seeing the crowds descending on the ExCel centre in London on a grey Monday morning was certainly refreshing after last year's quiet fair, when half the world - literally - was missing.

Once again the main objective of the exhibitors and professionals at the World Travel Market was the same: to remind British tourists, especially those who may not have travelled abroad since before the pandemic, that their favourite holiday destinations are still there waiting for them.

Of course every stand at the fair this week was bright and cheery. Every destination, from Saudi Arabia to Scotland, had bright blue skies, green trees and golden beaches.

It takes more than enticing photographs, clearly, to be able to strike a deal with tour operators and travel agents that will bring hundreds or thousands of British visitors to your destination.

Andalucía and the Costa del Sol have been in London this week with their arms outstretched towards their regular visitors who love the south of Spain, reminding them that the beaches and golf courses are still here and among the best in Europe (some are even brave enough to remove the word 'among' but I'll leave it in that type of sentence for now).

But they are also reaching out towards new types of visitors; some of them have been given fancy titles, like "digital nomads" and "energy nomads"; others fit into categories like language-learning tourism, sports tourism, gastronomic tourism or even shopping tourism, areas that Malaga city has been promoting. And of course, everyone shares the idea that they want to branch out into "luxury" and "sustainable" tourism.

But to be able to offer all these types of tourism takes having all the right facilities to do so. This week the south of Spain has been out to prove just that: that it does. You can go to Malaga on a shopping holiday; you can go to any town to run a half-marathon; you can go on a break to Malaga province and dine at several Michelin-starred restaurants; you can go to any Andalusian city for a Spanish language course.

But all of these options being flagged up by the authorities are no good by themselves: shoppers will need a beach to go to after a long day's exercise with a credit card; fine diners might also want a round of golf; students need sunny terraces and lively bars; and digital nomads also need to get up from their computers and stroll along a promenade or go for a hike, or even a ski, in the mountains.

So the message Andalucía has hopefully got across this week is that it has everything, the whole package, whatever the main reason for your holiday.

And if it can claim to be luxury and sustainable, then even better.