The Tourism Office of Spain in India (Turespaña) organised a press meet in New Delhi to focus on the numerous offerings of Spain, including the colourful festivals that the country organises throughout the year, the Spanish gastronomy beyond the «tapas» where the participants learnt about and tasted some of the finest wines of Spain. The programme concluded with an interesting fusion dance show of Kathak and Flamenco that showcased a unique connection between India and Spain.
In an exclusive interview with India Outbound magazine, Miguel Nieto-Sandoval San Segundo, Tourism counsellor and director of Tourism Office of Spain for India and Abu Dhabi, talks about the latest trends among Indian travellers to Spain.
1) Can you name five Spanish fiestas, that one should not miss?
There are so many fiestas that you cannot miss in Spain. However, the five fiestas that you must definitely not-miss are-
1. La Tomatina Tomato Festival of Buñol: It is a tomato fight which is popular not only amongst Indians but international tourists as well.
2. Las Fallas, Valencia: Valencia welcomes in Spring with the Fallas. During the months preceding this unique spectacle, a lot of hard work and dedication is put into preparing the monumental and ephemeral cardboard statues that will be devoured by the flames. It is a festival that has been designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
3. April Fair, Seville: People wear typical Andalusian dress and you can see horsewomen, riders and richly festooned carriages.
4. Patios Festival, Cordoba: During the festival, city residents decorate their homes and the surrounding area with pots of fresh flowers.
5. Running of the Bulls, Pamplona: Three thrilling minutes of unrivalled risk and excitement are the reason this festival is so well known all around the world.
2) How has been the evolution in terms of arrival from India, notably with the Air India direct flight? Any new direct flights in the pipeline?
Since many years, Spain has maintained a double-digit growth from the perspective of Indian outbound travel to Spain. In 2018, Spain received 206,617 tourists from India, which lead to an increase of 47.78 pc compared to 2017. During the first quarter of 2019, Spain has witnessed 25,843 Indian arrivals.
Air India is the only direct flight for now to Spain from India. Thanks to the direct airline connectivity to Madrid from Delhi on Air India, Spain is benefitting from a huge number of arrivals from India, especially from the Indian capital city of New Delhi. Major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Malaga have great connectivity with Indian cities on several other airline carriers with just one stopover on their home ground.
3) What are the top destination Indians prefer in Spain? And the new offbeat ones you are pushing into the market?
Barcelona, Madrid, Andalusia, Valencia and Ibiza are the top destinations Indian travellers prefer in Spain. In the recent years, we have seen a recent shift by avid Indian travellers who choose to travel to offbeat Spanish destinations like Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, World Heritage Cities of Spain and Wine Routes of Spain.
4) What are the trends in terms of MICE ?
A good 20-30 pc of Indian arrivals to Spain come from the Indian MICE segment. We are supporting MICE movements to Spain from India by providing them local support for their Congresses and Conventions with the help of our Spanish Convention Bureaus and local tourism boards.
5) Spanish cuisine is another attractive element of the package. Do you think an Indian vegetarian can also easily find options?
Spanish cuisine uses natural and local ingredients in its cooking. This makes the Spanish cuisine distinctive in its character. We believe that the Spanish cuisine can cater to vegetarian and non-vegetarian palate alike. There are so many vegans now in Spain that the recent, progressive Spanish cuisine has inculcated the requirements of vegans and vegetarians. Patatas bravas (potatoes with spice), alioli potatoes, roasted red peppers in oil, vinegar and garlic, grilled eggplant in tomato vinaigrette, fried padrón peppers, Spanish fried cauliflower, cheese in olive oil, goat cheese with paprika, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and capers, salmorejo (cold tomato soup), mushrooms with garlic, fried eggplant with honey, olive oil bread with tomato and a whole of salad and sandwich variety that tourists can relish from the Spanish gastronomy.
6) Can you name a few wine trails and explain us about the wine culture in Spain?
Spain is one of the world’s great wine producers. The range and quality of Spanish wine has made the country the third largest producer in the world. In fact, wine producing has become a real art in Spain. Have you heard of Designations of Origins such as Penedès, Jerez, Ribera del Duero or Rioja? Below are some ideas for enjoying the world of wine in the company of your friends and family.
- Northern routes: There are a 1000 routes to know Northern Spanish wines. La Rioja, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia offer numerous routes where you can experience world-class gastronomy.
- Inland routes: The plains of Castille are a paradise for lovers of good wine.
- The Islands: The Balearic and Canary islands have a diverse and attractive wine-growing tradition.
- Southern routes: High spirits, sunshine and the blend of cultures are all part of the personality of Andalusia.