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€3.1M investment in tourism and hinterland promotion by Provincial Government for the end of 2011

Before the end of the year, the Provincial Government of Málaga is allocating over €3 million to the promotion of tourism and the hinterland. Fiestas of Provincial Singularity and popular traditions will make the main focus of investment in a sector that has grown by 5% this year, attracting 820,000 tourists.
The Department of Tourism and Regional Promotion is fuelling €600,000 into 61 Fiestas of Provincial Singularity –leading traditional festivals enjoying the special promotional support of the Provincial Government. Another €2.5 million will go to events which have not been designated as “Singular” but are “very important to the development of the hinterland,” as described by representative Jacobo Florido. Such events include festivals honouring patron saints, food fairs, and Carnival.
The Fiestas of Provincial Singularity sponsored by the Provincial Government through various agreement plans include some of cultural interest –Verdiales in Comares, Moors and Christians in Alfarnate, Cante Grande in Casabermeja–, food days –Perota Soup in Álora, Muscat Grape in Iznate, Purple Carrot in Cuevas Bajas–, and folk customs –Straw Mats in Casarabonela, Cattle Fair in Villanueva de Tapia, Water Festival in Jimera de Líbar. Out of the 75 Fiestas of Provincial Singularity held in Málaga, only 14 are not sponsored by the Provincial Government; this is so because local governments did not include them in their agreement plans.Mr Florido pointed out the importance of hinterland tourism for an offer that “keeps our destinations open all year round, rather than in the high season only.” “The hinterland has a huge potential,” and this year’s 5%growth “must encourage us to work harder to strengthen our promotional efforts.”

Antequera-Ronda-Málaga cultural pole

“Provincial Government is aware that the Costa del Sol is a unique yet heterogeneous destination, and that the hinterland is a necessary complement to sun and sand, which needs resources for a rich quality offer,” Mr Florido said. He was accompanied by the Head of the Department of Tourism and Regional Promotion, Félix Lozano.

According to a report published by the Planning and Development Agency (SOPDE) of the Provincial Government, there are 1,354 accommodation establishments in the hinterland today, offering 19,770 tourist beds. They account for 12% of Málaga’s registered accommodation.

“Half the beds in the hinterland are located in Ronda (21.5%) and Antequera (28.5%), which reinforces the idea that, along with Málaga City, these two towns make a cultural pole that is key to the improvement of tourism, the main industry in the provincial economy,” Mr Florido explained.

He added that 1 out of 3 tourist beds in the hinterland belong to hotels, “a sign of gradual improvement towards our basic goal: the perfect match between tourism and quality.” In any case, all the types of accommodation in the hinterland experienced growth from 2006 to 2011.

Three-key apartments (the top category except for luxury apartments) increased by 90%, whereas country homes and other rural accommodations rose to 1,047 (+11%), offering 6,900 tourist beds.

A reliable market based on domestic tourists

“One of the keys of hinterland travel is that, to a great extent (65%), it is based on the domestic market,” Mr Florido explained. “This helps fight peak travel,” he added. Moreover, 50% travellers in this segment come from Andalusia. According to the SOPDE report, their average length of stay of 6.29 days.

Demand from foreign countries and other regions in Spain has grown, as visitors “are interested in the wide array of attractions in Málaga Province,” Mr Florido stated. They particularly like nature and landscapes, and their level of satisfaction hovers around 96.3, above the average in the sun and sand segment. The overall rating is 8.13/10.

The SOPDE report also contains some interesting facts about hinterland visitors. Their average age is 41.7 years old –quite younger than the average coastal tourists. 60% come with their partners, and another 60% use the Internet to find information about the travel destination or make reservations (up to 70%).

Word-of-mouth recommendations are the main advertising channel for these tourists. In fact, the level of recommendation is really high for this segment (97%). Nine out of ten travellers plan their own trips.

€7M in activation plans

To conclude, Mr Florido stressed the importance of the creation of a broad offer and the development of the hinterland within tourism activation plans. These initiatives are co-financed by the Governments of Spain, Andalusia, and Málaga and managed by the Provincial Government. On the whole, €7 million are being invested from 2008 to 2013.

“It is €4.5 million in the Serranía de Ronda plan (2008-2012) and €2.5 million for Sierra Norte (2009-2013); the money will be fuelled into 200 different actions in 28 towns and villages in the hinterland,” Mr Florido remarked.


Tourist Board at European Golf Business Conference

The Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board has been present in the European Golf Business Conference. Organised by the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) and the Spanish Golf Course Owners Association (SGCOA), the event was held for the first time in Spain, more specifically in Marbella. To the Tourist Board, being there was a positive thing, given the golf industry’s importance to the Costa del Sol tourism sector.
EGCOA gathers golf course owners from 15 European countries and affiliates in another nine. In its 6th edition, the European Golf Business Conference relied on the experience provided by the five successful past events. SGCOA, in turn, felt honoured to help organise and host the conference.

The conference drew over 200 attendees, half of them coming from other European countries, mainly Norway and Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and France, but also USA and Canada.

Nominated by SGCOA, Marbella was the host city for being the place with the largest number of golf courses in Spain and the highest activity in the fields of golf and leisure for international high-end tourists. The conference’s logo included Marbella as a golf icon.

Since 2006, The European Golf Business Conference has catered to leading golf industry professionals from around the world, exploring the latest trends, inspirations and opportunities. In its 6th edition, the conference focused on “capturing the opportunities” that the golf industry has to offer and on how to sustain and grow business in these turbulent times.

The most important event took place on December 1. During the gala dinner, awards were given to leading personalities and organisations in the Spanish golf industry: Jaime Ortiz Patiño, Gonzaga Escauriaza (President of the Spanish Royal Golf Federation), Daniel Asís (President of Club Manager Spain), Joaquín Castillo (General Manager of Club de Campo Villa de Madrid), and Canal+ Golf (Director Hugo Costa and host Manuel Elvira).

EGCOA has members in the Netherlands, the UK, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Spain. All of them were represented at the conference in Marbella.

Keynote speakers included Michael Leemhuis (Executive Manager of Congressional Country Club, host venue for the US Open in 2011), who talked about “The ABCs of Leadership;” Jamie Edwards (creator of Trained Brain), discussed personal transformation as the basis of corporate transformation; Mike Hughes (CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, USA), who introduced the keys to development in the golf industry; Eric Wilborts (owner of Blue Green, a label with 48 golf courses in France and Belgium), who drew a parallel between the fitness and the golf industries; and Carlos Roca (President of PGA of Spain), who gave a master class on marketing for golf academies.

The conference was held at Hotel Don Carlos, which provided accommodation to participants. To bring it to a close, there was a golf tournament at Cabopino Golf.


Tourist Board makes presentation for Virtuoso travel agents

The Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board has made a presentation for a group of travel agents working for Virtuoso, a network of American luxury travel agencies with over 300 members and 7,000 travel advisors in 20 different countries. The presentation was prepared with the Spanish Tourist Office in New York and representatives of the American network.
Interestingly, the presentation will be uploaded for future viewing on Composer, Virtuoso’s application to connect members, as a webinar (virtual seminar online) on a product or travel destination. In general, presentations take 45 minutes, with some time afterwards for questions from attendees.

During a webinar, agents can write their questions, which are answered in real time. Each webinar is announced in the Virtuoso newsletter and by email sent to the contacts in the Virtuoso database. Webinars usually draw some 50 agents, although some are not connected all throughout the presentation. However, the webinar is recorded and available for six months. In this action we were accompanied by three Costa del Sol-based hotels that are members of the Virtuoso network: Finca Cortesin, Marbella Club, and Kempinski Hotel Bahía.


Málaga, Costa del Sol, and Gijón to attend EIBTM together for better positioning

The Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board, the City of Málaga, and the Gijón Convention Bureau are attending Barcelona’s EIBTM, The Global Meetings & Events Exhibition. It will be the first activity after they signed a groundbreaking agreement for the promotion of both cities as conference destinations. In a press conference for specialist media today, they gave details of the agreement, which envisages the creation of a common brand, the development of communication and promotion/marketing plans, and the sharing of domestic market intelligence in the association sector.
Together at the leading MICE show taking place in Barcelona, they will announce their synergy for better positioning to the press. This will mark the beginning of their joint work in the association sector and, if things go well, in the corporate sector too, for the agreement will be valid for four years.

The Málaga-Gijón alliance is aimed at recruiting events at the national level in a framework of cooperation that includes shared knowledge of the domestic association market, joint communication plans, a common brand name, and a joint promotion and marketing plan. The alliance’s medium-term goals are improving competitiveness, gathering market intelligence, and joining efforts in a north-south synergy (event rotation).

The parties involved consider that a marketing alliance like the one they have signed will boost their business opportunities, specially for the companies settled in both areas, give them a broader scope, enable them to capitalise on their efforts and optimise their budgets, reach other goals than those they can achieve in isolation, share business and institutional experiences, and make local companies more competitive.

The common brand name, to be operative for four years, is expected to add visibility to both travel destinations. The basic concepts of the strategic alliance are the complementary nature of the two travel destinations, the understanding between the teams carrying out the project, and the seriousness of the working plan, which includes brand creation products and a communications and marketing plan. It is the first north-south marketing alliance for association business recruitment between Spanish cities.

The alliance is intended improve the positioning of both travel destinations in the meetings and conference market by joining efforts and optimising resources for higher productivity, while emphasising key factors like the strong business fabric, the solid infrastructure and the accessibility of both destinations.


Argentina Ttv to produce shows on Málaga

Argentina Ttv has been to Andalusia on a one-week trip during which they filmed and gathered material. As a result of this press trip, whose programme was designed by the Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board alongside other institutions, they will soon broadcast three 26-minute shows, five 4-minute micro shows, and 30 flashes on Andalusia, many of them focusing on Málaga.
Ttv is present in several social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The request for the press trip came from the Spanish Tourist Office in Buenos Aires via Empresa Pública para la Gestión del Turismo y del Deporte de Andalucía.

The Tourist Board helped organise it with the aim of reaching clients in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, for Ttv’s shows are then broadcast for South America by cable operator Cablevisión.

Moreover, the trip is expected to have a huge advertising impact, especially if you take into account the channel’s advertising fees (€9/second on TV or social media).

Ttv’s shows will enable us to reach target audiences in South America with images and information on the Costa del Sol. Therefore, we can say the press trip has been successful. The Ttv crew visited Frigiliana, Nerja, and the main attractions in Málaga City (Gibralfaro Castle, Roman Theatre, Arab Fortress). Their activities in Málaga were organised with the cooperation of the Cities of Nerja, Frigiliana and Málaga.


UK travel agency consortium Hays Travel forecasts positive evolution in number of bookings for winter 2011-2012

Hays Travel, the largest independent travel agency consortium in the UK –which has just held its annual conference in Benalmádena– is optimistic about the number of bookings for the 2011-2012 winter season. The consortium’s founder and Managing Director, John Hays, said he expected the sector to have a positive evolution.
To the Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board, this is good news, given Hays Travel’s relevance in the industry. Last year, the consortium’s revenues totalled almost £500 million. In the cruise segment, it managed 28,000 passengers.

Hays Travel is UK’s largest independently owned company. It now has 43 branches and 350 travel retailers operating under the company’s licences and bonds (150 independent travel agencies and 200 agents working at home). They all got together at Hotel Torrequebrada in Benalmádena for their two annual conferences: one for Hays Travel staff and one for independent agents.

Hays Travel has been operating for more than 30 years and has a staff of 900. It is the largest independently owned travel agent in the UK and a member of ABTA, the British Travel Association.

According to agency sources, in the summer 2011, Hays Travel witnessed a 16% increase over the previous year, whereas in winter the increase was 10%. Half the reservations belonged to dynamic packaging.

According to Mr Hays, the results for the Costa del Sol had been positive in spite of the crisis. The Managing Director of Hays Travel believes the conference will boost business. In general, this kind of events tend to increase the tourist flow.

The Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board contributed to the organisation of this annual conference, together with Empresa Pública para la Gestión del Turismo y del Deporte de Andalucía and the Spanish Tourist Office in London. The event was organised by Sehrs Tourism. In it, we made a presentation for travel agents.

The presentation was aimed at boosting the sale of Costa del Sol products, especially for winter, emphasising diversification to increase the number of visitors in the low season. All agents got very interested in our travel offer.

Our work before and during the conference will be complemented by meetings, online courses in real time for travel agents, call centres, and advisors working at home (especially those specialising in winter travel and its products, such as pre- and post-cruise stays, getaways, city breaks, health and wellness, fly drive holidays, cultural tourism, and food travel), and email campaigns targeting end consumers with the aim of boosting sales for the rest of the winter season.

At the conference, Hays Travel showed its support to Thomas Cook after a bank deal saved it from collapse a few days ago. Moreover, Mr Hays announced his company would continue selling the packages offered by the UK-based tour operator, provided they were backed up by the insurance company, while taking promotional action to boost sales, except for those products that were not protected by consumer protection legislation.


Positive outcome of INTUR, with numerous visitors

The Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board considers the International Interior Tourism Trade Fair (INTUR) to have been very positive, especially in terms of visitors. This year, the Valladolid travel show gathered 306 exhibitors from all over Spain and beyond, representing 1,200 travel companies and tourism organisations. Cities, regions, and countries, transport operators, hotel chains, active travel companies, and tour operators showcased the products and services they offered in the segment of rural tourism.
To the Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board, the results of INTUR 2011 (15th edition) were very good, being as it is the leading event in rural tourism and the second most important one in general tourism at the national level in terms of size, number of visitors, and surface area.

Parallel to the fair, on November 24 and 25, we also attended a workshop connecting suppliers with retailers. Some of the actors present at INTUR were conference organisers, active travel companies, hotel chains, and service companies. The Tourist Board had a space in the stand of the Andalusian Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Sports. We were accompanied by some of our affiliates.

Our main goal at INTUR was to do business, expanding our customer portfolio and business connections. Besides the contacts we made at the workshop, we had meetings with the representatives of AVE, AEDAVE Castilla y León, Rhodasol, Catai Tours, Travelplan, Viajes Ollantai, Travelmar, Muchoviaje.com, Rumbo.es, Lastminute.com, and Minube.com.