The Spanish tourist board recently began initiating more aggressive efforts to target potential visitors from emerging market countries, notably India and China. More often than not, the term "emerging market" is associated with other terms like manufacturing, balance of trade, production, imports and exports. Now we can add tourism as a term associated with emerging markets.
Not that tourism boards have neglected reaching out to potentially new clients. From Europe to the United States to South America and Asia, tourist industries were and are keen to attract bigger markets. But for the first time, Spain has established a Spanish tourism office in Mumbai, India. The goal is to establish Spain as a tourist destination among Indian holidaymakers.
The opening of the Mumbai office follows on the heels of the merger between British Airways and Iberia Airlines. Part of the strategic plan is to establish Barajas Airport in Madrid as an international hub facility. This will enable more direct flights to Barajas from Europe. More importantly for the immediate future, direct flights can be slotted in from India as well. It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to conclude that the same strategy will be employed in regard to China down the road.
Spain has had to face setbacks in recent years. Like the rest of the world, the 9/11 attacks on New York City sent all travel into a tailspin. Not only did leisure travel suffer, but business travel did as well. As things gradually returned to some semblance of normality, Spain took another hit. Spain's subway system was assaulted by terrorists on two occasions. Once again the effect was a dampening of tourist traffic.
But the Spanish government and its people are nothing if not resilient. With so much to offer in terms of culture, art, relaxation, natural beauty, shopping and cuisine, the tourist board is determined to make the entire country a holiday destination unique from the rest of Europe. And why not? With hundreds of regional and national parks, tremendous mountain ranges, hundreds of miles of inviting beachfront, stunning architecture and a seemingly unending array of sports and cultural offerings, one would be hard pressed not to find an idyllic way to spend holidays.
Attracting an upscale clientele should be an easy sell for the Mumbai office. Mallorca and Ibiza have already become favorite stops for both the lesser known wealthy tourists and celebrities from all over the world. From fashion to nightlife, from penultimate accommodations to world class cuisine, Mallorca and Ibiza with their combination of glitz and elegance are go to places for the rich and famous. Add to that some of the more secluded and fun spots like Lanzarote in the Canary Islands really does emphasize how unique Spain is. Lanzarote with its sublime beaches and captivating surfing venues has much to offer both professional athletes and upscale amateurs.
The Spanish tourism industry is going all out to secure a substantial share of the emerging market tourist trade. And while they are focusing in the short term on India and China, the world tourist board recently identified the top 10 emerging market countries that will undoubtedly be wooed as well. They include, in addition to India and China, Montenegro, Croatia, the Republic of Congo, Vietnam, Romania, Namibia, Hong Kong and Chad.
Clearly there is an enormous potential for tourism within these emerging markets. Certainly Spain is not alone in desiring to gain as much of this market as possible. As they unroll their three-year strategy, it is also clear that they are doing everything they can to highlight the uniqueness of their country. No one should be surprised to see an increase in Indian and Chinese tourists, at least as an emerging markets starter.