SUDIPTA DEV – Mumbai
Spain Tourism that saw almost 50 per cent growth in India market in 2011, expects this year and the next few to continue the growth trend at 40 per cent. For Spain Tourism the emerging markets of BRIC countries is one of the key priorities of the tourism policy. “While India for us might not be the biggest in terms of emerging markets it is expected to grow in the next five to 10 years as one of the most important far distant markets that have historic ties with Europe, are well connected with Spain and western oriented,” said Arturo Ortiz, director of Tourism Office of Spain, Mumbai.
The first quarter of 2012 has in fact witnessed 45 per cent growth in India market. Ortiz acknowledged that while they have been growing very fast, Spain Tourism is aware that their country is not the first preferred destination for Indians. “For us it not a matter of numbers, but the long term diversification of the market scene. We are not getting first time Indian travellers to Europe. The fact that Indians who are coming to Spain for the first time (and the third/fourth/fifth time to Europe) works in a very positive way for us. When they return to India they talk about their experiences and become our best market prescriptors,” stated Ortiz.
Spain is known to be a destination for repeat travellers. Of the 57 million people who visited the country in 2011, almost 80 per cent have visited at least once and as many as 40 per cent have more than 10 times. Spain Tourism has a similar long term perspective for the India market also. “We have 17 different regions which cannot be experienced in one trip. This is the way we believe we will grow in this market. Besides newcomers, there will be many more repeaters. It is a diversified country so most people can find their own Spain,” said Ortiz.
Currently there is a strong focus on FIT travellers. A lot of cruise going Indians are also heading to Spain as many cruises start in Barcelona. Since the release of the movie ‘Zindagi Na Milagi Dobara’, there has also been an increase in fly and drive segment. “We want to push the MICE segment as well, which is big in India and we don’t want to lose share. We are partnering with the travel trade and corporations so that we can assist them – we are sophisticated enough to provide different services that this segment requires,” mentioned Ortiz, adding that Madrid and Barcelona have big convention centres, besides Costa del Sol in Malaga. Seville and Bilbao also have convention centres, but he expects the Indian MICE segment to opt for the first three.