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‘We are hopeful that we will recover in the Indian market soon’

With travel restrictions being eased, Spain is witnessing an increased interest in travel from leisure and MICE travellers from India. Elisa Robles Fraga, Director, National Tourism Office of Spain, Mumbai & Tourism Counsellor, Embassy of Spain, India, talks to Disha Shah Ghosh about their trade activities in India and the steady interest for film shooting in Spain.

Q. Spain Tourism has had an active presence in the Indian market for some years now. Where does India rank in pecking order of important international source markets for Spain Tourism?
Historically speaking, countries like the UK, France, Germany, among others, have registered high number of tourists to Spain, and not just because of their geographical vicinity, but also because of Spain’s pleasant weather, gastronomy, lovely beaches and extraordinary cultural heritage. However, considering its economic performance over the past decade and its positive outlook towards the post-pandemic future, India indeed is a very important outbound market for Spain too. We hope to recover the number of visitors we had in 2019 and go beyond that number in next few years, considering that India held a comparatively lower rank compared to the popularity of Spain at the global level.

Q. Pre-Covid what was the number of Indian tourists to Spain? Realistically speaking what time frame do you think is required to achieve those numbers again?
Pre-Covid till the year 2019, Spain was enjoying a tremendous growth of Indian tourists year after year, especially with more than 210,000 tourists per year during the years 2018 and 2019.

However, as we all know, the current post-Covid era is quite dynamic and challenging, with many travel regulations and vaccination policies coming into effect regularly. Having said that, with increasing vaccination levels in both the countries, currently the visitor numbers are indeed gaining momentum. So, we are hopeful that we will recover in the Indian market soon.

Q. With border restrictions being lifted, what marketing and trade activities have been chalked out for the India?
We are indeed very excited about our upcoming promotional activities. We have already carried out online promotional campaigns that have helped to maintain Spain’s position as one of the preferred European destinations. Besides, we have a few familiarisation trips for media and travel trade planned for the year, a Spain Specialist Program being carried out for travel trade, as well as some more physical promotional events in the pipeline for the coming months, just to give you a brief idea.

Q. Any plans to introduce new destinations, routes in India?
The Indian international travellers are already well aware of the globally popular Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, among others. However, we would also like to encourage them to experience so many other tourism products that Spain can offer too. Various exciting activities planned around St. James Way pilgrimage route, scenic drive routes in the north of Spain, relaxing oneself on the Canary or Balearic Islands, visiting the UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Sites all over Spain… well, the list goes on!

Q. How do you plan to continue engaging with the film fraternity in India for shooting in Spain?
Spain is a favourite filming destinationfor many directors and producers, with recent international examples like Game of Thrones. In fact, one of our immensely successful projects – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – still happens to be quite relevant and popular to this day among the Indian film audience.

Spain indeed has several programmes in place that engage the film fraternity and provide financial support, among other things, in collaboration with different film commissions. There are, in fact, a couple of multi-starrer film projects in the pipeline which we are all excited about. Stay tuned for more updates on that!

Q. Besides leisure tourists, which other segments of travellers are you looking at tapping from India?
Besides leisure tourists, MICE is also an important segment for us in the Indian market. After the recent relaxations in international travel restrictions, we are seeing increasing interest from this segment and we are hopeful that this trend continues in the future too.

Q. Are you considering joint marketing activities with any other European destinations for twin-country tourism promotion?
We could explore the possibility of joint promotional activities in the future, especially considering that the Indian traveller does like to visit more than one country while travelling to Europe. However, as currently all the European destinations are recovering from the pandemic in terms of tourist numbers, multiple factors need to be discussed before any agreement is reached with another European destination., oulook

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