Inbound tourism market to Spain is recovering very well: Elisa Robles Fraga

Series of in-person activities lined up in Indian market this year
/ Mumbai
Inbound tourism market to Spain is recovering very well: Elisa Robles Fraga

Andalusia in Spain is a tourist’s paradise as the compact region measures less than 88,000 sq km (Photo: India Outbound)

With tourism to Spain recovering rapidly from India, like many other source markets, the national tourism promotion board has lined up a series of in-person activities to promote the country and its various attractions for Indian visitors, Elisa Robles Fraga, Director, Tourism Office of Embassy of Spain in India, tells India Outbound.
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Elisa Robles Fraga

How has Quarter 1, 2023 been for Spain Tourism in India?

Before the pandemic, we were the second most visited country in the world. We had 83 million international visitors coming to Spain in 2019. So now after the pandemic, we are recovering towards that figure and last year, in 2022, we had around 72-73 million international visitors. So we are on the good way. I don’t have the latest figures with me right now, but the tendency is very clear. The numbers are growing and the market is recovering very well.

What are some new initiatives undertaken?

During the pandemic, we had to use, like all the tourism boards, mainly digital strategies and tools like webinars, marketing online and social media networks. It has worked very well here in India, so we have continued to do that. When we do activities with other colleagues or other tourism boards in Spain, they cannot come here and prefer to have a webinar. Then we have a good attendance. But now, we are mostly focusing on in-person or presential kind of activities like this ITB India, which I think is going to be extremely well. We had the nicest time with many meetings and we had travel trade partners come here from Spain for B2B meetings. This is one part.

Then, we are also going to have travel trade presentations in different cities, like Tier II and Tier III cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata and Chandigarh. People are coming from Spain for meeting with the travel trade here in India. Also, we are preparing a roadshow in three main cities. We are going to have roadshows in October in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.

As far as the consumers are concerned, we are also having meetings with selected people in different cities. We are having many online marketing activities and we are addressing questions which are relevant for us. Plus we are also organising many gastronomy events which are important because India has a very diverse gastronomy and we have that, too.

We have the International Tapas Day and tapas are small portions that can be had with family and friends and it accompanies drinks. So it is normal for us to go from bar to bar in the evening to try the different tapas in different bars. Also, we have the International Paella Day. Paella is a rice dish that originated from Valencia by the Mediterranean Sea. It is cooked in a frying pan with two handles and we use normal rice and add saffron and then you can make veg paella or non-veg paella. It is an iconic dish, known all over the world, and second is pasta which is known all over the world.

So we celebrate the paella day and tapas day, with different chefs preparing these dishes and competing. So we organise many events to make our destination known all over the Indian market.

This year, we are participating as tourism board in many G20 meetings because India is the G20 President this year. So, the Indian government is organising many meetings around all sectors and one of them is tourism. So we have to go there and discuss many issues like promoting sustainable tourism.

Which segment is Spain Tourism targetting in India?

We are targeting all of them, but mainly FITs,  lot of them but mainly FITs, MICE and millennials.

What kind of expectations do you have from summer travel in India?

We are having good expectations, I have to analyse because I don’t have with me all the data, but the perspectives are extremely good. But we have one problem which is visas. Not just the process of giving the visas from the Consulate in Mumbai or the Embassy in Delhi, but mainly because of the appointments, because everyone wants to have an appointment and it is very complicated.

But apart from that we are doing really well. When a person submits all the papers, in Mumbai at least, in 48 hours or two days you get the visa. We are the best country, be it in speed, and in efficiency as far as procedure to issue the visa is concerned.

Which are the top 5 destinations in Spain for Indian visitors?

We have the islands, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands and millennials love Ibiza. Canary Islands is an all year-round destination because the weather is excellent with temperatures ranging from 18 to 25 degrees. So, it’s lovely to go to the beach and relax, neither too hot, nor too cold. Then Barcelona is a very attractive city for Indians, because it’s by the sea, because of the culture, because of the Costa Brava, which is close to Barcelona. There are many important monuments, there is La Sagrada Familia, which is very famous around here.

Madrid is also very important and there are some kinds of travellers looking for leisure and luxury experiences like spa, shopping and we have all international brands and luxurious outlets. One can go out on the street and there are famous brands there that are Spanish. Zara is Spanish, so is Mango and Massimo Dutti.

And then we have Spanish designers who are very chic and very posh, apart from international brands. Then we have lovely markets, iconic ones are in Ibiza and Costa del Sol, which is another favourite destination for Indians. They love the southwest of Spain which is very famous with Malaga, Marbella, very famous. Seville, Granada or Cordoba There are many places which are very popular with Indian tourists.

How is cruise tourism important for Spain?

Well, we are also promoting cruises because we have major ports where many international cruise lines come, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, not in the north, so mainly in Barcelona, in Valencia and in Malaga. Cruise is an important segment and Indians love it as when you go to a new port, you don’t have to pack your bags, but you come back to the ship in the evening and staying onboard is a very nice and luxury experiences, very nice food and everything. Also, another thing, which is becoming more important every day is sports. Football in India. La Liga is very famous in India, especially clubs like Real Madrid and Barca or Barcelona. And then we have very famous tennis players like Rafael Nadal and another one who is becoming very prominent now Carlos Alcaraz.

We also have excellent golf courses in Andalusia and all around the country and we also have Polo. So sports is very important segment and cultural heritage is also very important and we have many tourists coming to see the works of Antonio Gaudi, Salvador Dali or Picasso. This year we are celebrating the 50th death anniversary of Pablo Picasso, Spanish-born artist. He went to live in France due to the civil war in Spain, but he was born in Malaga and lived in Madrid before the war began. And then we are also promoting the northern part of Spain, which is the greenest part of the country.

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