By Rose Maramba
It’s a great time for global tourism. And definitely for the Spanish tourism, too. According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 68 million international tourists have visited Spain in 2015 which represent an increase of 6.2% from the previous year. This makes it a cakewalk for the country to maintain its third position worldwide in the number of arrivals (after France and USA) and second position by revenue (after the US).
Moreover, in 2015 Spain topped the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, thanks in part to its infrastructures, cultural resources and ability to adapt to the trends set by the new digital consumer.
All these underscore the strategic importance of tourism to the Spanish economy, representing 11% of its GDP and more than 12% of employment, thus situating it as Spain’s most important export sector.
Spanish outbound tourism is also growing, at a stunning rate of 16%, in expenditure. This understandably makes Spain a favorite target of foreign travel agencies, tour operators, hotels and other services in the sector.
That is why when Spain’s annual FITUR (International Tourism Fair) opens its doors at the Trade Fair Institution of Madrid (IFEMA), seriously go-getting professionals make it a point to attend. From January 20 to 24, 2016 Madrid hosted the 36th edition of FITUR, the premier business and promotion forum of the worldwide tourism industry and one of the most important trade and professional events in the world.
FITUR could hardly not draw all the actors in the tourism industry to Madrid. As in previous editions, the attendance during the first 3 days of the trade show’s 36th was strictly professionals only. But at the weekend it was opened to the general public.
The trade show keeps growing in participation, having reached 1,600 companies from 165 countries and regions in its 36th edition. The increase in national and international firms is 8%. There was a particularly significant increase in the presence of technology companies and in the Health Tourism section. There was also a significant growth in foreign participation among which were Burkina Faso (formerly the Republic of Upper Volta) and Latvia who both attended for the first time. This year there was noticeable increase in European participation. And there was a meaningful incorporation and consolidation of new destinies in the African continent.
The lqatest figures confirm the upward trend in attendees which posted a record number: 232,000 visitors of whom more than 125,000 were professionals in the sector.
A model that integrates market trends
In keeping with the remarkable position of Spain in world tourism industry, FITUR has developed an integrative model for the latest market trends. The trade show highlighted the market’s growing segmentation and the emergence of new business opportunities. The latest incorporations, FITUR SHOPPING and FITUR HEALTH, which were successfully launched last year, have consolidated their position in the 36th edition. The FITUR LGBT section is also growing, which in Spain moves €6.1 billion and has vast potential for growth.
FITUR 2016 hosted intensive workshops and professional meetings that brought together tourism experts for an in-depth analysis of the current situation of the tourism industry and to explore new possibilities. EXCELTUR (Alliance for Excellency in Tourism,) which promotes the highest degree of competitiveness for the Spanish tourism industry, addressed the “innovative policies for connecting with the digital tourist.” The UNWTO was on the scene for its Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism.
> Temple of Debod by Carlos Delgado (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Kadellar)
> WTO HQ by Luis Garcia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Zaqarbal), cropped
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