TRAVEL GAZETTE – Spain is on target for another record year in terms of tourist numbers with the state tourism agency Turespana announcing that the first five months of 2016 saw 25 million foreign tourists come to Spain.
That is an 11 percent rise on the same period in 2015, which itself saw a record 68.2 million foreigners spend their holidays in the country.
While it is true that Spain has probably benefitted from security fears over formally popular destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia, Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) stressed other factors were also vital in Spain’s success.
“There is a bit of a misconception that Spain is benefitting from the decline of problems of other Mediterranean destinations, but this is a false assumption,” said Rifai in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
“The good performance of the Spanish tourism sector is primarily down to the good work carried out by Spain, there may be some visitors coming because of other factors, but people are coming because of what Spain is right,” he stressed.
The UNWTO secretary general highlighted three areas where the Spanish tourism sector was succeeding, explaining that the first thing was diversifying its offer away from the traditional sun and beach holidays.
Although that tourism is still vital, Spain now offers “gastronomy, wine, culture, villages and rural areas, mountains and skiing holidays … everything …” and this has allowed Spain to “meet the challenge of seasonality, it means tourists come all year round and which has doubled or tripled the number of visitors,” he said.
Secondly, according to Rifai, Spain is “concentrating on knowhow and quality.”
“It is crucial to look at what Spain is doing in innovation and ideas and maintaining an excellent quality in its products. It is constantly reviewing what it offers, changing, reviewing and renovating,” he explained.
As well as keeping its offer modern and fashionable, Spain has also worked well in promoting its image both at tourism fairs, through advertising campaigns and also through the use of social media thought organizations such as Turespana, regional and local tourist authorities and Spanish hotel chains.
“You know you are going to have a good time in Spain before you are going to come, they have managed to use social media and other promotional means to maintain their plan and a very good image,” concluded Rifai.