Ana Larrañaga, Director, FITUR, speaks to TRAVTALK about the highlights of the trade show, scheduled to be held from January 17-21, 2018, and the tourism potential India brings to the platform as Partner State.
What are your expectations from India as Partner State this year at FITUR?
The union of brand India and FITUR strengthens the bilateral relations established between the Governments of India and Spain, which identified common cooperation objectives including tourism. Above all, it represents the reinforcement of both the brands by unifying their synergies globally and in Europe, Asia and the Latin American market in particular. This association between India and FITUR will translate into multiple promotion and branding initiatives. In fact, this is the third year we’ve put this initiative into effect, and the experience has been hugely satisfactory. In economic terms, for example, the media resonance of a FITUR Partner Country is 15 times any investment made in this action.
How important is the India market for FITUR?
Among the Asian countries present at FITUR, India has the greatest presence. The India Hall is in fact registering an overall increase of 35 per cent in participation this year compared to the previous year. The India Hall will also feature greater participation of companies and states, thereby enhancing business possibilities.
What kind of participation is expected at FITUR this year?
Like every year, FITUR will open the international tourism trade fair calendar and will allow professionals to establish the working lines that will set the pattern for the entire year. We closed the participation figures at the end of December, but everything indicates that we will grow in both destinations and in companies, and exceed last year’s number of 9,893 exhibitors. In line with the industry’s robust health, as reflected by the UNWTO’s figures of 4-5 per cent growth, we are confident of having a highly dynamic edition and of exceeding the 244,972 trade visitors of the last staging. More than 200 international hosted buyers, tour operators and travel agencies, will indulge in B2B and B2C pre-scheduled meetings with FITUR exhibitors. These working meetings will be held on January 18 and 19 at Hall 9. Last year, as many as 6,800 meetings were conducted. We have also developed the PEP (Professional Encounter Point) application through which exhibitors and visitors can freely schedule meetings.
Are there any seminars planned during the conference?
If yes, kindly tell us a bit about them? We will be organising various activities starting January 16, a day before the official opening of FITUR, such as the Exceltur Forum and the Latin American Conference for Tourism Ministers and Businessmen, CIMET. In addition, during the first three days of the trade fair, which are exclusively devoted to trade visitors, we will have conferences, presentations, knowledge and innovation forums in each of the specialised sections: FITURTechY, FITUR Health; FITUR Know-How & Export, FITUR LGBT, FITUR Shopping and, as a novelty this year, FITUR Festivals. Moreover, with a focus on trade, FITUR will host different activities organised by UNWTO, Investur Africa, Casa Asia as well as sessions and presentations by various business associations, tour operators, carriers and technology companies. Over the weekend, when the trade fair opens its doors to the public, hundreds of entertaining and interactive activities have been scheduled and are being prepared by the exhibitor companies in their stands as well as by FITUR.
How has India contributed to Spain’s inbound tourism?
Spain welcomed 75.3 million travellers in 2016, making it one of the three most-visited countries in the world, according to UNWTO. The largest number of tourists received in 2017 came from the European Union, mainly United Kingdom, France and Germany, and this year it expects to break a new visitor record as per forecast by our Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda. According to UNWTO, Spain registered an increase of 18.42 per cent in tourists from East Asia, and India in particular, in 2016.