€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.


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