The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, accompanied by the new regional head of tourism, Luciano Alonso, revealed the Junta’s ambitious plans for tourism in 2015 on Wednesday – among them increasing visitor numbers by 1.2 million to over 25 million.
“We know that tourism drives the economy,” said Díaz, signalling the Junta’s intention to make special efforts in the international market and move from fourth most popular Spanish destination for foreign visitors to third position – currently held by the Balearic Islands who had 11.3 million international tourists last year to Andalucía’s 8.5 million.
Díaz pointed out that the tourism industry generated 16.6 billion euros in 2014, a rise of 0.8 per cent.
One of the challenges for this year, she stated, was to work on increasing the average tourist expenditure in Andalucía through raising the number of nights in the average stay. For this reason there is to be a strong focus on attracting foreign visitors, especially from emerging and long distance destinations.
Díaz took the opportunity to reiterate that 2014 was a fantastic year in terms of tourism in Andalucía. In fact, it was the best in history with 24 million visitors (6.6 per cent more) 45 million overnight stays and created 332,000 jobs (up seven per cent).
To that end the president stressed that tourism in Andalucía is growing faster than in the rest of the country, partly to do with the restoration of the national market which grew five per cent last year.
“22 per cent of Spaniards who stay in Spain for their holidays choose our region. We are absolute domestic market leaders,” said Díaz. She also put the accent on those figures which refer to customer satisfaction. Visitors to Andalucía give their stay an average score of 8.2 out of ten.
For his part the new Junta head of tourism, Luciano Alonso, announced plans to upgrade Andalucía’s hotel sector.
“In the coming days I am going to address those involved in this business about re-assessing Andalucía’s hotels”.
Alonso stressed that Andalucía has a magnificent collection of hotels and hoteliers who are conscious of the need to keep upgrading their properties, something they weren’t always able to do during the crisis. On the Costa del Sol alone sixty hotels have taken advantage of the low winter season to improve their sites.
More flights to the east
On Wednesday Alonso signed a deal with the director of Turkish Airlines in Malaga, Halid Koca.
The airline is to increase the number of direct flights to Istanbul from seven to ten per week by June and this is expected to rise to 14 by the end of the year.
Malaga council also announced a new flight route to San Petersburg with airline Vueling and the opening of negotiations with Air China to establish a direct flight to Hangzhou.
Among other news from the first days of the trade fair is an investment of a million euros in 2015 for 11 new tourist projects (which range from the upgrade of residential areas used by tourists to the creation of infrastructures for hiking trails and walking routes) in 11 different towns on the Western Costa del Sol. These are Casares, Istán, Ojén, Marbella, Estepona, Fuengirola, Manilva, Benalmádena, Torremolinos, Benahavís and Mijas.
Courtesy: Sur in English
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