Arturo Ortis, Tourism Counsellor, Embassy of Spain Tourism Department speaks with T3 about the destination's strategy for the year
Even though, the Indian outbound market is a small market but a very potential one in terms of Spain Tourism. In 2012, we saw a statistical growth in Indian tourists visiting Spain, an increase of almost 10 per cent has been observed in 2012 which has been similar for 2011 as well. Indian tourists are now looking at discovering Spain as a destination.
We continue maintaining the two-digit figure in the Indian outbound travel market. In order to succumb the visa challenges that we were facing in the past, the Spanish Consulate and Embassy in India has taken measures to increase their personnel so as to ensure smooth and quicker visa processing. It has been assured that the Spanish Consulate in Mumbai will process the visas within maximum five days from the date of application of visa. The same is applicable for MICE groups and business travelers to Spain. Thus, it can be clearly stated and assured that from now on visa processing will not be an issue to the Indians travelling to Spain. We are looking at establishing direct flights with two airline companies, namely, Air India and Jet Airways, they already have permissions to have direct fleet to Spain, however, this is foreseen to be commissioned into service in the coming year since a final decision about this is yet pending.
Our most successful, long-term marketing initiative for Spain has been the release and success of the Bollywood movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. This movie has helped us create awareness about Spain as a friendly and experiential destination, it has created the urge of discovering Spain and experiencing all that has ¨Been there, done that¨ by the actors in the movie. Since then, the vision of an Indian tourist has been to discover Spain by being part of La Tomatina festival, or watch a bull-fight. This year, we strategise Spain as ¨A Country of Europeans with a unique and special lifestyle¨.
In 2012, we have conducted several product presentations about the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in Spain, we send out a monthly newsletter featuring newer tourist destinations every time including World Heritage Cities. There are several festivals around the year that can be visited and experienced in Spain.
In terms of Indian trade travel, we offer the travel agents and tour operators destinations with an edge in Spain so that they know the USP of the product they are selling.Spain has the largest high speed train network in Europe called the ¨AVE¨, and it ranks second in the world after China and allows you to fly&rail. Our strategy has always been to actively participate with communication mediums to promote Spain Tourism in India. We continue building business relations between Tour Operators and Indian market by organising road shows both in India and Spain. This year, a road show will be conducted in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in India with a foreseen participation of about 20 Spanish companies. We are organising a Trade FAM trip for travel agents/tour operators to Madrid, World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in Spain and to Ibiza to further promote these destinations amongst travel agents.For the first time, IBTM is coming to India and this year we will take part in this event to further expand our MICE aspect of the business.
The high speed train network in Spain called the ¨AVE¨ connects the major cities in Spain and helps you reach from one major city to another in just 2-3 hours.The Spanish RENFE Rail Network has introduced a new product in their range called the ¨RENFE Spain pass¨ which allows non-residents in Spain to travel around Spain with great ease and comfort at economical prices.Amongst other destinations that we promote, a few of them that we are planning to actively promote this year are Madrid, Barcelona, places close to Barcelona like the Northern Catalan region - Costa Brava, Cadaquez, Girona (The Dalí Museum), Figueres and Costa Dorada, Tarragona, wine cellars in the Southern Catalan region and Port Aventura which is just an hour away from Barcelona as the main adventure, theme park for Indian tourists travelling with their families and children. And, Ibiza as a holiday destination in combination with other places in Spain for its natural and cultural aspects that it offers along with its fun and galore.