Wanted tourists more gastones

Wanted tourists more gastones

Tourism continues to be the most reliable engine of the Spanish economy. Last year we thought that we had reached the ceiling when brushing the 82 million visitors, and the growing competition from cheaper destinations such as Morocco or Tunisia presaged that it would be difficult to exceed that figure. However, in 2018 we have set a new record, as the number of tourists has increased by 0.9% to 82.6 million. And there is still room for improvement because Spain has pending tasks. The main one is to attract visitors with greater purchasing power.

The average expenditure per tourist last year was 1,076.09 euros, 2% more than in 2017. Insufficient data, experts believe, because Spain has the potential to allow its visitors to leave more money within their borders. To achieve this, it should be marked in red attract more Chinese tourists, because they spend more on their trips, the problem is that precisely all destinations are "fighting" for them. They are followed, in this order, by the Americans, the Germans, the British, the Russians, the French, the Canadians, the Australians, the Italians and the Japanese.

It is understood that Spain does not have to make efforts to attract tourists from the European Union, since all countries are in a space of free mobility of people. This is coupled with the facilities provided by the single currency and the reduced cost of flights by proximity. The same is not true for non-European visitors. They face greater disbursement in transportation and numerous bureaucratic obstacles. That is why, to the qualified long-distance tourists (for the extensive journey they make) we must seduce them to choose us among the wide range of destinations.

And the figures show that Spain could do better. Of the 9 million Chinese tourists who come to Europe every year, only 600,000 (6.66%) choose our country, and spend 2,600 euros per person compared to 641 euros for a French person. The Americans have shown a better evolution, going from almost 2 million in 2013 to over 3 million in 2018. For its part, the Russian segment in Spain reached its peak in 2013 with more than 1.5 million viewers, and after reducing 36% in two years (mainly due to the depreciation of the ruble) has recovered to 1.1 million, still far from previous levels.

In addition, Koreans are also among the most sought-after tourists for their purchasing power, and in our country, in five years, they have increased from 110,000 to 441,000 in 2017, according to the latest recorded data, small if you consider that they come out More than 27 million each year.

The fundamental reason why more visitors of these nationalities do not arrive is the lack of promotion in their countries of residence. On the other hand, there are shortages of air connections, especially with the eastern territories. There, also, is where bureaucratic obstacles most notice to obtain a visa that allows him to enter Spain.


The best example to demonstrate these deficiencies is the Chinese market, precisely the one that interests us most and the one that needs to be more competitive. The CEO of Henkuai, Carlos Sentís, admits that "Spain has a fundamental image problem in China, and that is why we are not a priority destination. We like them, but they do not decide to come to our country because it is not promoted correctly ».

According to him, the solution is to do an arduous job in social networks, transmit the image of Spain through television programs and get the "influencers" and Chinese celebrations to visit and talk about our country because in China "they have a power of very large prescription, much more than here, "says Sentís.

Regarding air connections, despite the recent openings of the routes to Shenzhen and Xian, "it is still not the frequency nor enough volume to convert Spain into a reference destination," confesses the president of the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality (ICTE), Miguel Mirones. Opening a route with a country as far away as China is a great investment for an airline, among other reasons, you must cross a good number of states that charge you to use their airspace. Therefore, the companies will not make that disbursement until they are assured that those flights will be filled, and for the time being they remain cautious, at the same time as the promotional strategy of Spain in China.

The airlines find a strong argument for not expanding the connections in the delay in the issuance of visas. The authorities of our country take an average of fifteen days, while the French, two, says Carlos Sentís. So much delay is due to the malfunctioning of the winning company that manages them, and whose contract remains in force even though the ministry has grounds to justify its rupture.

And of course, to issue a visa required to present the purchased tickets. After this disbursement, few are willing to wait two weeks to receive a response, which can be denied. I would touch rectify and wait another two weeks or more with the uncertainty that the trip is approaching and all the necessary documents are not available. By overcoming these barriers, the number of Chinese, Japanese or Korean tourists can increase their growth rate, as has already been achieved with the US or Russian market, where a greater promotional effort has been made and bureaucratic processes have been streamlined.

These tourists with greater purchasing power look for destinations that have developed the "cultural and gastronomic tourism, as well as the shopping", underlines Mirones. For them, experiences are fundamental, such as days in amusement parks, excursions, sports practices … And in all areas require identity, that the product is typically Spanish: monuments, shows, food, adventure, brands of clothing or jewelry .

There is also another type of profile that requires a wide commercial offer because pleasure is found in spending, as can be seen in "the shopping centers that have enough brands from all over the world, which are full of tourists", the director highlights. Spain of Global Blue, Luís Llorca. Thus, the main consumption in "shopping", according to Global Blue, is in fashion and accessories (61%), followed by jewelry and watchmaking (24%).

Each nationality has its preferences, and in purchases the Chinese stand out. But the director of Emoturismo, David Mora, says that Americans are particularly interested in heritage. As our country is so rich in that aspect, Mora believes that Spain should set the North American market as one of its priorities.

In addition, the tourism industry has encountered the birth of a new demand. Or rather the reconversion of a preexisting one. Visitors with high purchasing power are asking for classic holiday offers, which were originally intended for the middle classes.

The sector has adapted them for a high range, and "highly specialized products" have emerged in this regard, explains Miguel Mirones.

Experts agree that although Spain does not do a good promotional and bureaucratic work outside our borders, the country itself is well prepared to welcome tourists with high purchasing power. The Secretary General of the Tourism Board, Germán Porras, maintains that we have "unique public infrastructures, we are a safe destination and our health can be trusted. And precisely because of all that we have been named for the second time as the most touristically competitive country, according to the World Economic Forum ».


The trade is also prepared, because tourists do not find barriers when it comes to consumption. "Stores are acquiring more common forms of payment for these travelers," says Luís Llorca, such as WeChat or Alipay for the Chinese. And he adds that tourists do not have to doubt the reliability of Spanish shops.

Neither of the hotels. The chains have improved their infrastructures and have included in their offer attractive services for tourists with greater purchasing power. The general secretary of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (Cehat), Ramón Estalella, maintains that before "for the hotels, 100% of their income came from the hiring of the bed and the food. Nowadays that does not mean a very high percentage because the benefits are obtained with services such as the gym, rooms for events, shows, without forgetting that 40 of the 100 best Spanish restaurants are in hotels ».

However, Spain has not yet managed to encourage a type of tourism that leaves a lot of money in our country, the sanitary. "The client has a much higher average cost than usual," says Mirones. The health and tourism sectors allied to design a model to attract these visitors, called «Spain Cares». But this program could not be developed because the necessary funds did not arrive, losing a very important opportunity for our country, says Mirones, and linking two industries in which Spain is a world reference.

The coast fears the Brexit

In the context of Brexit, Spain has a particularity with respect to other European countries. It is the only one that receives more British citizens than residents who go to the United Kingdom. The reason is that Spain is your preferred tourist destination. Although both the industry and the Spanish have complained about this poor quality tourism, the fact is that the sector awaits with uncertainty how the British market will react to Brexit. What worries most, explains David Mora, is "the loss of purchasing power they may have" if the pound loses value, because in that case they could opt for cheaper destinations such as Morocco or Tunisia. In addition, the industry remains expectant on the final measures of Brexit, because if the conditions for circumstances such as the transfer of pets are hardening, they could be a serious blow to tourism.


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