Indian visitors to Spain in 2023 surpass 2019 levels

Outlook for 2024 is decidedly optimistic: Elisa Robles Fraga
/ Madrid
Spain Tourism
Indian visitors to Spain in 2023 surpass 2019 levels

Spain is not looking to increase just the volume of Indian tourists visiting the country, instead Spain Tourism Board also wants to focus on quality of tourism

As Spain receives a record turnout for its annual global tourism fair, FITUR, currently on in Madrid, the country is preparing for a bumper year in terms of visitors from India in 2024 and the Spanish Tourism Board has outlined a number of activities in the Indian market, says Elisa Robles Fraga, Director of Spain Tourism Board in Mumbai.
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In 2023, Spain registered its best ever performance in tourism industry as international tourist arrivals exceeded 84 million, well above the previous peak witnessed in the pre-pandemic period in 2019.

In this context, there is little surprise over the record turnout at the leading Spanish tourism fair FITUR, which ended here in Madrid on Sunday, that attracted over 153,000 tourism professionals from 153 nations around the world.


Elisa Robles Fraga

One of the markets where Spain has just promising growth is India, says Elisa Robles Fraga, Director of Spain Tourism Board in Mumbai.

“The Indian outbound market has shown a strong enthusiasm for Spain, with a notable surge in interest, particularly in the wake of the challenges posed by the pandemic. Spain, a perennial favorite for Indian travelers, witnessed remarkable growth just before the global disruption and has now not only weathered the storm but has surpassed pre-pandemic visitor numbers in 2023. As we step into 2024, the outlook is decidedly optimistic,’’ Fraga tells India Outbound on the sidelines of FITUR.

“Spain has always been a preferred European destination for Indian travelers, and our key segments, including gastronomy, art & culture, luxury & shopping, and MICE, continue to be significant draws,’’ she adds.

Spain is not looking to increase just the volume of Indian tourists visiting the country, instead Spain Tourism Board also wants to focus on quality of tourism.

“Quality in tourism is paramount to us. With Spain’s diverse array of tourism activities, visitors can make the most of their time in our beautiful country. In 2024, our goal is to exceed our tourism performance in terms of both quality and quantity,’’ says Fraga.

As with some other destinations, Spain is also focused on sustainable tourism and the board has taken a number of initiatives in this regard and Fraga highlights that according to tourism guide Lonely Planet, Spain is 2024’s most sustainable travel destination.

Calendar-full of activities in India

To keep the momentum going in the year 2024, Spain Tourism Board has planned a series of activities in India throughout the year, starting from January in Mumbai.

“Looking forward to 2024, our plans for promotional activities are already in full swing. We kicked off the year in grand fashion with our participation in the Kala Ghoda Art Festival in Mumbai, offering a firsthand experience of Spanish art and culture to the Indian market,’’ she says.

Fraga says that during 2024, the Tourist Office of Spain in India aims to bring the rich culture of Spain closer to Indian travellers through a myriad of experiences. One of the key attractions of Spain is its gastronomy and accordingly Spain Tourism Board has planned activities in India to highlight the country’s rich gastronomy.

Gastronomy holds a special place for Indian tourists, and our two main gastronomical events, World Tapas Day in June and World Paella Day in September, are dates to be marked in every traveller’s calendar,’’ says Fraga.

On the rich arts and cultural attractions that Spain holds for visitors, Fraga says that the participation in Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai is an example. “Our ongoing collaboration with the prestigious Kala Ghoda Art Festival exemplifies our commitment to the arts. Spanish artists like Miró and Dalí are being showcased through art installations and engaging workshops, creating an immersive cultural experience,’’ she says.

Beyond arts and culture, another strong magnet for Indian visitors to Spain lies in its sports, notably football as a number of Spanish Football League, LaLiga, have big fan followings in India. Spain Tourism Board is looking to build on this activity further.

“Building on the success of our collaboration with LaLiga in the sports segment last year, particularly in football, a sport beloved in the Indian market, we aim to organise captivating activities in the football and sports segment in 2024,’’ says Fraga.

Enhancing engagement with trade and media

Acknowledging that the travel trade and media playing an important role in promotion of overseas destinations, Spain Tourism Board will not only continue, but enhance its engagement with both the pillars.

“Familiarisation trips remain integral to our strategy. Both the travel trade and media play vital roles in creating awareness about our destination in various market segments. Recognising the significance of social media in our communications, we intend to enhance our online presence in 2024 through careful collaborations with content creators whose values align with our interests in gastronomy, cultural content, and sustainability,’’ says Fraga.

With the tourism markets in continuous evolution, the Director of Spain Tourism Board in Mumbai says that the board remains open to the diverse interests of the Indian market and is flexible and adaptable, ready to cater to the evolving tastes of the discerning travellers.

“2024 holds immense promise for Spain and India’s tourism relationship. We are excited about the year ahead and look forward to welcoming more Indian travellers to explore the wonders of Spain,’’ says Fraga.

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