Spain’s tourist board chief insists it remains “unconcerned” about the resurgence in popularity of the eastern Mediterranean, instead focusing on maximising its own appeal to new sections of the UK market.
Speaking exclusively to TTG at the Abta Travel Convention in Seville, Javier Pinanes, director of the Spanish Tourist Office, said his organisation “had expected” the comeback of the Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt markets.
There was a 2.9% year-on-year reduction in British visitors to Spain between January and August 2018.
“We are not very concerned about that because we can’t compete with these destinations in terms of prices,” he said.
“But all these figures must be considered in their real context – those countries have a small amount of the [tourism] market share.
“We have 40% in the summer and 35% in winter, while they have only 1-2% in winter.”
Pinanes added this renewed competition was not the only reason for the decrease in tourists, with the drop in the value of the pound a major factor: “It’s a combination of the two.”
Pinanes said Spain’s focus was on improving its own offering, such as investing in the renovation of hotels and the promotion of new products.
Meanwhile, figures revealed a record 19 million British tourists visited the country in 2017. He said: “We are delighted with that figure, but we must also talk about improving it.
“We are always talking about global figures, but it’s important to talk about spending in Spain too, extending the season and promoting other products and regions. British tourism to Spain is high, but not in terms of spend.”
Pinanes said target markets were those interested in culture, gastronomy, golf and MICE. A particular focus is the more “cosmopolitan” market, Pinanes said – those interested in “getting under the skin” of a destination. He said this segment was growing.
“We are launching targeted campaigns and promoting the new destinations through journalists and niche operators,” he said.
Pinanes continued: “Tourism from the UK is very focused on the coasts and islands – 92%. These people don’t know Granada, Cordoba, Santiago de Compostela, San Sebastian, Extremadura or Seville.”
Pinanes, who attended the Elite conference in Granada as well as the Abta convention, said the delegates had been impressed with the destinations and vowed to return with their families.