Despite the considerable social and economic reforms that have taken place in Spain over the last three decades, and modernisation that has lead the country to become one of the most forward-thinking in the world, good old fashioned tourism still remains one of the country’s most important industries.
In fact, it’s the single most powerful stimulus of the country’s overall economic well-being and employment, providing 12% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Spain now rates just behind France in terms of the total number of holiday visitors and second only to the Americans in terms of the volume of sales and the Spanish government want keep Spain on top of the international tourist destination ratings until 2020 and well beyond.
To do this, they’re actively implementing what they call their “Plan del Turismo Español Horizonte 2020” which is undertaking significant investment in more environmentally sustainable leisure resorts and in the country’s key road, rail, sea and air transport networks, which they see as key to the flow of tourists both into and around the country.
In our area, the Málaga province alone, evidence can be seen of this investment through the current expansion of Málaga airport, which will see a second runway and new terminal opening next year in what is already Spain’s third biggest airport.
There’s also the recently-opened high-speed AVE train linking the city of Málaga to Madrid (now two hours between cities) and the rest of Spain, plus the expansion of the city’s sea passenger port.
The lesser-known areas of Spain – such as the Costa Azahar in Valencia – are also being promoted by the government to foreign markets, together with other aspects of holidaying in Spain, such as the exploration of the country’s vast cultural heritage.
The government also want to extend the holiday season, by marketing Spain as an all year-round tourist destination.
In short, they want visitors to see Spain as a culturally enriching holiday destination throughout the autumn and winter, as well as the spring and summer – a place that offers far more than just the traditional ‘sun, sand and sangria’ package deal fortnight in a cheap hotel during the summer on the Costas.
So far, despite the worldwide recession, the plan seems to be working.
In Andalucia alone – historically one of the most popular package deal destinations – the Spanish Tourist Board now say there are noticing a marked trend, especially amongst the British, for exploring the less commercialised areas of the region.
All fantastically positive news if you own a holiday rental property in the area!
That’s all for now, hasta mañana!