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“The Spanish government is immersed in transforming our model of tourism”

Reyes Maroto, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, stated in the following interview granted to FITURNews that the Spanish Government is immersed in transforming our model of tourism. She announced that the year will close with better results than 2018, with a 2.4% growth in tourism spending, amounting to roughly 92,000 million euros, while the flow of tourism will increase by 0.7% to 83.4 million international visitors. She also explained what actions her Ministry means to take to increase profitability in the sector.

05 Dec 2019

This year will close with better results than 2018, which was already an outstanding year. We anticipate a growth of 2.4% in terms of tourism spending, which will be around 92,000 million euros, while the flow of tourism will increase by 0.7% to 83.4 million international visitors. These are very positive figures despite uncertainties such as Brexit, the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook and the global economic slowdown, especially in Germany, which is our second-largest issuing market. The increase in tourism spending reinforces the Government's commitment to greater profitability of the Spanish tourism sector and the diversification of issuing markets.

And, in this very positive situation, what actions are you taking to promote tourism in our country even further?

 Our aim is to increase the profitability of the Spanish tourism sector, to have greater quality in the destination and to reinforce a more varied tourism offer, in which experiential tourism, business tourism, nature tourism and rural tourism are increasingly in demand. That is why we are working on new tourist profiles and on diversifying the issuing markets, with a special focus on far-away countries such as the United States, Japan and China, which are already recording strong growth.

As I said, we are promoting product diversification, showcasing what differentiates us: gastronomy, culture, history, nature, congresses, etc. Our strategy is already bearing fruit, and in markets like the UK we have noticed that tourists are coming from segments other than the purely holiday segment. All these actions help us to achieve a more seasonally adjusted, sustainable, profitable and competitive tourism.

How does Spain deal with this strategy of seasonal adjustment and segmentation that you mention?

Spain is a world leader in holiday tourism, but we also have an excellent, varied offer that allows us to attract visitors all year round. We are diversifying our value by adding products that extend tourism beyond the coast and big cities, such as inland tourism, wine & gastronomy tourism and eco-friendly tourism.

What new trends does Spanish tourism embrace in terms of sustainability and new technologies?

Sustainability is not just a moral imperative, it is a necessity that the Government has made a priority. That is why we have incorporated this value as a fundamental pillar of the 2030 Tourism Strategy, which we intend to develop in this legislature. But steps are already being taken from both public institutions and the private sector.

At the World Travel Market in London we held a conference entitled "Sustainability as the foundation of Spain's Tourism Strategy", and the Spanish tourism sector also took part in COP25. As far as new technologies are concerned, they play a key role in transforming the tourism sector and improving its profitability. In this field, we are developing methodology called Intelligent Tourism Destination and have created an ITD Network, which now has more than one hundred members, including tourist destinations, collaborators and institutions.

What role does Spanish tourism play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations?

Spain must maintain its position as world leader in this sector and use it for tourism to contribute to building a better, more prosperous, egalitarian and inclusive society, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030. It is time to stop measuring the success of the Spanish tourism model exclusively by the increase in the number of tourists. We must go further and look at the sustainability of the model, not only from an environmental point of view, but also from an economic and social point of view.

At the same time, this sustainable growth must overcome the problems that beset it, such as the loss of identity of destinations, over-saturation of spaces, environmental pollution, or the unequal distribution of the benefits that accompanies current tourism growth.

The Ministry is immersed in transforming our model of tourism by improving our competitive capacity and the profitability of the industry, by differentiating the natural and cultural values of our destinations, and by equitably distributing the benefits and burdens of tourism. It is a strategic sector, but it also needs to be a tool for social and territorial cohesion, economic development and population fixation, all of which we are working on.