Spain’s popularity is growing among Arabs

Spain expects to attract as many as 54 million tourists this year

AFTER launching a new marketing campaign targeting the Middle East last year, Spain has witnessed a surge in interest for the destination from travellers across the region.

Ignacio Angulo, director of OET Roma (Oficina Española de Turismo or Spanish Tourism Office), says that accurate visitor data from the region are hard to get because several tourists enter Spain on Schengen visas from other European countries.

However he does point out that there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of visas issued over  the last 12 months.

Globally, Spain expects to attract 57 million international tourists this year, an increase of five million over 2010.

“Spain is second in Europe and fourth in the world in terms of tourist arrivals and second in the world for tourism income,” says Angulo.

Spain’s biggest source market is UK which accounts for 23.6 per cent of international tourists, followed by Germany (16.7 per cent), France (15.4 per cent) and ltaly (6.5 per cent). 

In recent years the OET has intensified promotional programmes in markets such as Russia, China, India or Brazil.

“Spain is a leader destination when it comes to sun and beach, cultural tourism and congress tourism,” he says.  “We are also working to promote Spain as a gastronomy and shopping destination. Now we are interested in promoting a country which offers different experiences. The goal is that the tourist remembers not only places he has visited or what he has eaten or bought but also we want him to remember what he has felt and lived.”

In 2012, Spain celebrates the bicentenary of the enactment of the first Spanish constitution in the city of Cadiz, so a large number of events can be expected to commemorate the occasion.

Earlier this year, Turespaña held carried training programmes in Doha, Kuwait City and Dubai, and found out there was a growing interest on Spain and great possibilities for cooperation, says Angulo.

“We will intensify training programmes for professionals in the tourism industry, while continuing our promotional activities, sending newsletters on a monthly basis, promoting our country through the Facebook site Spain in Middle East and through the website “Spain is becoming more and more attractive to the Middle East and the Middle East is becoming an interesting market for Spain. There are many opportunities to work together,” concludes Angulo.