Offering 220 km of coastline and a consolidated touristic infrastructure, the Costa Brava is a key leisure destination in Spain, attracting both domestic and overseas visitors.
Nevertheless, the area still suffers from high seasonality levels, as reported in data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), showing that 51.6% of the arrivals are concentrated during the summer months.
The Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board
–key entity for the economic development of the region – is currently on a strategy to reduce the dependency of the destination on the high season, as well as to increase the quality of the tourism received.
This strategy includes key actions, both from the public and private sectors, with ultimate objective to improve the quality of the region as a tourism destination as well as implement long-term sustainability.
How is seasonality affecting hotels?
Seasonality is a tourism phenomenon which has a negative impact on the hotels as well as the destination as a whole.
On one hand, the destination is seeing its image damaged due to temporary overcrowding in the high season, which reduces the quality of tourism, life and work conditions of the population, as well as the state of local resources and infrastructure. On another hand, hotels experience instability in their revenues as a result of a short period of operation as well as fixed costs during non-operating months.
Therefore, generating more demand in the low season has become one of the biggest challenges for leisure destinations (both beach and ski).
A growing demand during the low season and a better tourism infrastructure of the region represent an opportunity for hoteliers to increase their profitability taking advantage of longer operating periods and attracting visitors with a higher purchasing power – Ramon Ramos, General Director of the Girona Costa Brava Tourism Board
Interview with The Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board
With the aim of analysing more closely and directly the current situation of the Costa Brava and introducing the actions intended to lower the seasonality at a regional level, Christie & Co interviewed Ramon Ramos, Director of the Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board. Ramon shared his views with regards to the evolution of tourism in the Costa Brava and their commitment to reduce seasonality.
What are the key actions conducted by the Tourism Board to reduce seasonality in the Costa Brava?
In line with the most recent annual Objectives and Actions Plan (PAO), the Tourism Board is focusing on three cores axis: promoting a quality tourism (intended to increase the volumes of spending rather than the total arrival volumes), improve the quality of the tourism infrastructures (both hotel and leisure) and build a strong destination brand image.
One of the key factors success has been the establishment in 2011 of the Product Marketing Clubs, formed by nine tourism products: Culture and Identity, Nature and Active Tourism, Girona Costa Brava Convention Bureau, DO Empordà Wine Route; Wine and Gastronomy, Golf, Premium Tourism, Health and Wellness, and Sports Tourism.
This approach has not only boosted tourism in the area, but has also increased the visibility of other products, such as MICE Tourism and Active Tourism in a territory where years ago tourism was basically focused on the coast.
Other products such as Premium Tourism, Wine Tourism, Gastronomic Tourism and Golf have also proved to be successful cases for the Costa Brava and have generated a remarkable level of private investment.
In relation to the investments, what projects would you highlight?
The PGA Catalunya Resort Golf Course, in a process of modernization and expansion of its facilities, received in 2016 an investment of approximately € 53m.
Another highlight includes the future inauguration of the D'Or Museum in the Castle of Sant Julià de Ramis, a large-scale rehabilitation project in the interior of the Baix Empordà area that represented an approximate investment of € 14m. The Museum will present a collection of jewels and high-level works of art.
Also noteworthy is the celebration of the White Summer festival in Pals, which closed its last edition with 140,000 attendees and has begun to be exported to other cities such as Barcelona as a result of its success.
Could you give us an example of actions which helped reducing the seasonality of the region?
International events such as the Sea Otter Europe
(cycling event sponsored by the Cannondale firm), are attracting the interest of foreign Tour Operators that see the province of Girona as a very interesting destination to develop cycling tourism products.
This event is an important achievement for the region. The 2017 edition registered over 30,000 visitors, 350 brands and 4,130 athletes that participated in the event.
It is expected that the 2018 edition will be a great success again, as in September 2017 all exhibitions spaces were already sold out.
How do you think the Costa Brava will evolve in the coming years?
The perspectives of the Costa Brava on the long run are of continuous growth, in line with the tendency in recent years. The Tourism Board plans to keep reinforcing its brand and increasing the quality of tourism in the territory.
We are aware that tourism will continue to suffer the influence of the high season, but expect the activity in low season to increase, enhanced by the growth of different tourism products that the province of Girona offers.
The data provided by the Barometer of Profitability and Employment of the Spanish hotel sector elaborated by Exceltur shows positive evolution of the Costa Brava. In 2017 hotels registered an annual occupancy level of 64.4% (+ 15.2% / 2012) and an average price per room of € 75.8 (+ 20.7% / 2012), reaching a RevPAR of € 48.8 (+ 39.0% / 2012).
In the same way, there has been an evolution in the number of active hotels during the winter months. According to the data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), the low season in 2012 registered 986 operating hotels, in the same period of 2017 there were 1,031, representing a 4.6% uplift.
A few years ago, it was unthinkable for many hotels to open during the winter months and, currently, more and more hotel operators are willing to open all year round – Ramon Ramos
The case of Lloret de Mar
Consolidated destinations such as Lloret de Mar
, in a joint effort of the Tourism Board, private companies and local government bodies, have opted for the promotion of these tourism products to reduce the impact of seasonality and become an example of successful conversion.
Hoteliers, have invested in renovating their properties and adapting their facilities and services to the needs of the new segments that are making Lloret de Mar a reference destination nationwide.
According to the City Council, the city counts with a total of 120 establishments supplying more than 29,000 hotel bedrooms, many of which have seen the need to reposition themselves in the last years.
Lloret de Mar, in a framework of tourist reconversion, has invested in infrastructure to be able to offer adequate facilities for the practice of sports such as cycling, integrating itself within the set of municipalities with distinction of Active Tourism Destination of the Catalan Tourism Board, and opening the door to Tour Operators and specialized agencies in this segment.
In addition, community platforms such as Wikiloc and Strava (offering free satellite navigation, trails and waypoints to its members), in collaboration with the Tourism Board, promoted the practice of sports showing trails across the Costa Brava region, giving the opportunity to the tourism sector to offer their services and promote their establishments as part of these trailing networks.
Lastly, the MICE segment in Lloret de Mar has also experienced growth thanks to the investment in hotel facilities and the promotion of the city as a center for holding events.
Ramon Ramos is the general director of the Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board of the Girona Provincial Council since August 2011. Previously, between 2003 and 2007, Ramos was president of the same tourism promotion entity and was also mayor of the town of Blanes.
Pol Fabregat, Analyst, Christie & Co Spain & Portugal
He holds a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management from the Ramon Llull University, which he combined with an international exchange program at IUBH University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Furthermore, he completed a master’s degree in International Business Management at EADA. Before joining Christie & Co he worked at the Hilton Hotel in Barcelona and at Atlanta Travel and Corporate Events Consultants.