Many tourist destinations are deseasonalising their tourism industry by creating new products and activities to increase their visitor numbers outside the summer months and throughout the year. One example is Chile, which has consolidated its adventure travel, nature and culture segments, as well as astrotourism and wine and gastronomy tourism in natural areas. Within Spain, both Catalonia and Castile and León are diversifying activities and seeking new markets to improve visitor distribution. The regional capital of Málaga has spread its events over the course of the year to boost months with lower occupancy rates and project the image of an ever-active city.
One of the countries working on deseasonalising tourism is Chile, which provides a tempting range of products on offer during the whole year. Emma Ortega, Deputy Director of Marketing from SERNATUR, explains that tourism planning and promotion in Chile is focused on ‘enhancing the value of sustainable tourism products and services, as well as showcasing the immense diversity of landscapes and a wide variety of experiences that respond to the interests and aspirations of the most demanding travellers’.
According to Ortega ‘adventure travel and nature tourism in our many national parks, astrotourism experiences under our world-famous unpolluted skies in San Pedro de Atacama, trips combining wine and gastronomy tourism in natural spaces such as Valle del Elqui and Casablanca, as well as trips focused on culture in Chiloé and La Araucanía - these are just some of the products we are focusing on to attract travellers over the course of the year, with an emphasis on the special characteristics of each destination in each season’.
She also points out that ‘we have worked hard to ensure regular air travel connectivity with the main outbound tourism markets and we have significantly improved our internal connections, specifically to boost multi-destination travel, enabling us to take advantage of the value of having a land which is so vast, with so many options’.
Diversification in Catalonia and Castile and León
David Font i Simon, director of the Catalan Tourism Agency, indicates that the 2018-2022 tourism marketing plan for the region poses a series of challenges for tourism promotion over the coming years. ‘One challenge is to put special focus on the need to deseasonalise - 47% of tourists arrive between June and September - but we also need to decentralise and diversify tourism activities, as well as increase average spending per tourist per day’. In this regard, ‘we are co-creating new products under the banner of the ‘Grand Tour of Catalonia’, to ensure low season interest and a better distribution of tourism in time and space’.
The itinerary will take visitors around Catalonia in 10-12 days, but the route can also be done in shorter sections or stages. It will also offer ‘an excellent opportunity for discovering high-quality experiences related to cultural heritage, wine and gastronomy, the natural and rural environment, and the diversity of our landscapes at all times of year’.
At the same time, the Regional Government of Castile and León is boosting its cultivation of emerging international markets to increase deseasonalisation, as Estrella Torrecilla, its Director General for Tourism, explains. In this regard, the region has rethought external promotion, focusing on emerging and little explored markets, such as China, Russia and Singapore.
Málaga, always active
Málaga City Council’s tourism department suggests that there are no marked signs of seasonality in the city, although in December and January occupancy rates are somewhat lower than the rest of the year. In all events, they indicate that ‘one of the strategies that we implemented years ago is to spread our events over the course of the year - not to reinforce tourism in the months with lower occupancy rates but to project the image of an active city with something happening at national and international level all year round’. They also focus on the value of ‘new spaces and alternatives to the best known places and routes, with the aim of increasing the frequency of visits’.