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30 July 2018 | Hoteles

Excessive tourism: A current problem? Has Spain got too many tourists?

According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Spain received a total of 82m foreign tourists in 2017, a record figure that resulted in a substantial increase in total expenditure, on the previous year, of 12.5% by international tourists. However, most of the visitors to Spain tend to arrive during the summer season and be concentrated in very specific locations leading to anti-tourism sentiment and new concepts like 'tourism phobia'.

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According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Spain received a total of 82m foreign tourists in 2017, a record figure that resulted in a substantial increase in total expenditure, on the previous year, of 12.5% by international tourists. However, most of the visitors to Spain tend to arrive during the summer season and be concentrated in very specific locations leading to anti-tourism sentiment and new concepts like 'tourism phobia'. 

The overall increase in the number of travellers to Europe and within the continent itself for tourism purposes is, in principle, good news for the European and Spanish hotel industry. Nevertheless, the main challenge for our countries is that demand has not yet been evenly spread. Instead, it concentrates on a few destinations that suffer from pressure both on public infrastructure and the environment, as well as a lack of available rents and rising housing costs.

According to the latest data published by the INE, 81.5% of tourists who vacationed in Spain in 2017 did so to the following destinations:
  • Catalonia (22.0%)
  • Balearic Islands (19.6%)
  • Canary Islands (17.3%)
  • Costa del Sol (10.0%)
  • Costa Blanca (8.0%)
  • Costa de la Luz (Cádiz) (4.6%)
Likewise, according to the same source, 91% of hotel overnight stays in coastal destinations took place between June and September.

The data highlights two challenges for Spain faces as a tourist destination:
  • Diversify demand
  • Reduce seasonality

At Christie & Co we understand that, in order to diversify the tourist demand, Spain must adapt to the new kind of tourists by offering them new products adapted to their needs.

To this end, important efforts are being made, especially from the private sector to create new hotel concepts and value with hotel refurbishment. However, holiday destinations like Navarre, Asturias, the Basque Country and Galicia, are at the top of the list of destinations with the best-rated hotels according to Tripadvisor's rankings, and yet they do not enjoy the prominence they deserve given what they can offer.

To achieve demand diversification across different Spanish territories, we must commercialise destinations through public-private initiatives that improve air and ground transportation as well as expanding the image of the image of tourism in those territories

According to INE, the Rias Baixas (Galicia) received 1,442,966 passengers in 2017, ranking at number 17 for most visited tourist areas ahead of destinations such as the coast of Almeria or Huelva, with an increase of 13.3% on 2016 (becoming the second destination that most increased the number of passengers in 2017). However, 64% of overnight stays took place during the summer months.

On the contrary, Costa Blanca - Benidorm is the main attraction thanks to its stable climate, good connectivity and the commercial strategy developed in recent years, which has consolidated its position among the destinations that received the highest number of passengers in 2017 (4,137,874 passengers, according to INE), with only 34% of overnight stays occurring during the summer months.

Spain is much more than just “sun and beach”. However, to be able to market alternative concepts of tourism, it is necessary to look at the wider potential of Spanish destinations and what they can offer.
Interview with Carlos Berrozpe, Managing Director of Adh Hoteles

With the aim of analysing closely and directly the current situation of tourism in Spain, and specifically the tourist areas that need to boost their marketing to achieve those challenges described above, Christie & Co met with Mr Carlos Berrozpe, General Manager of AdhH Hoteles, hotel chain oriented to the multi-brand management, to get his point of view on the challenges covered above as well as the evolution of tourism in destinations like Huelva or Murcia and also, to talk about their commitment to achieve tourism diversification in Spain. 

C-Co_Icon_SpeechMarks_Open_orchid.pngAt Adh Hoteles we are committed to the diversification of destinations through the promotion of social and leisure activitiesC-Co_Icon_SpeechMarks_Closed_ochid.png

In your opinion, what is being done from a public point of view to promote tourism in less developed areas?

Although it may seem obvious, it is very important to combine both private and public initiatives in all areas, since promoting tourism is not only about hotels, apartments, shops or restaurants, but also about infrastructure, roads, airports, trains, beaches and hospitals, among other services. We must be clear about our aim and establish the appropriate strategy to achieve it. Only in this way will we be able to offer a tourism adapted to the type of client we want, to the temporary nature of the client and to the basic services required by a high quality profile of tourist. Therefore, it is necessary to design an action plan, with its corresponding budget, that unites the public and private sectors to offer the best visitor experience.

Public entities are working hard to break the seasonality of some destinations and we must act together to alleviate this in many parts of Spain. We must be coordinated in promoting the values and key aspects of these destinations –such as cultural, gastronomic, social or sporting, among others– that will allow tour operators and agencies to offer a good product. We must not forget, for example, certain aspects that directly influence tourism, such as communications infrastructures, since the more accessible and cheaper they are, the more customers will be encouraged to go to a destination.
Is it possible to diversify tourism by avoiding seasonality and overcrowding?

Deseasonalisation grows in parallel with the development and activity of destinations. In our opinion, tourism means getting to know the location, enjoying the culture, history, gastronomy, music and folklore of an area. If this doesn’t happen in a real way on the streets, the location loses its magic. At Adh we are committed to diversification through the promotion of social and leisure activities, helping our clients to find a wide range of activities within the resort or hotel to meet their needs and passions. But this does not deseasonalise a destination, as there are external factors that do not depend on us and hence the need to establish a joint public-private strategy.
The current portfolio of Adh Hoteles is made up of mainly holiday hotels, how do you see the evolution of the holiday market in Spain?

Currently, our portfolio is diversified between holiday hotels - beach, golf and sports hotels in general - and urban hotels, where at certain times of the year, tourism and business are increasingly merged.

As for the evolution of the Spanish holiday market, the hotel infrastructure will continue to be reinvigorated partly due to the new properties that see their way to the destination and that try to improve with the incursion of international brands, without becoming crazy. That is because not every concept or brand is suitable to every place. Brands know it and protect themselves, choosing carefully where and with whom they are located.

Regarding demand, the boom we have experienced in recent years is going to slow down. The recovering of countries such as Turkey, Tunisia or Egypt means that international feeder markets, managed by tour operators, are being diverted to destinations which offer higher margins, something that undoubtedly affects the Spanish holiday market. The tourism demand, although Spain is a country in growth and with notable improvement after the years of crisis, cannot cover the gaps generated by the repositioning of other countries tourism. For this reason, we must strive to be the best and, to do this, we must offer tourists different products, for which we must invest in technology, in human resources and join forces between companies as well as local and national authorities in the destination.
Adh is committed to secondary holiday destinations such as Murcia or Huelva, how does Adh approach the marketing of these destinations?

Although these are secondary holiday destinations, both Murcia and Huelva have several important attributes such as climate, gastronomy and the environment. At Adh, we are strongly committed to the quality of the product offered to tourists in both areas. For this reason, we have allied ourselves to powerful international brands: Family Life by TUI in Islantilla and Sheraton by Marriot in Murcia. Both TUI and Marriot are two great partners that allow us to offer good quality and maximum guarantee in our resorts, something that contributes to improving the image and the tourist force in Spain and in the countries with which we work. The commitment to this type of partnership is mutual and the results are very positive.
Are the TTOO partners needed for these destinations to survive?

At ADH we do not see the TTOOs or International brands as a necessity, but as a growth strategy, stability and mutual commitment through our multi-brand management model. We would not bet on a product or a destination without having guarantees that we will achieve good results, but we must work hard and even harder in a market like a tourist one since it is a constantly changing sector.
What do you think about new holiday destinations with growth potential such as Galicia, Guipuzcoa, Almeria or Huelva?

Nowadays any destination can become a good choice and improve its performance if things are done correctly and a good policy and strategy are established both at the product and destination levels. Therefore, synergies are needed with local hoteliers and public entities that pursue the same aim as us: to attract tourism. Proof of this is that there are destinations with great potential that have stagnated due to a bad strategy or, simply, due to exhaustion.

I always give an example from one of my mentors, Frank Rainieri. When he created Grupo Punta Cana and started out in the area with a few cabanas and a small caliche airstrip, it wasn't even considered a destination. However, it is now one of the most popular tourist areas in the world. The key message is that we must believe in what the destinations offer us and create appropriate and authentic products because, nowadays, people want to enjoy sensations, feel emotions and live real experiences.
The case of Magaluf that seeks to replicate Torremolinos

Established destinations such as Magaluf (Mallorca) or Torremolinos, in a joint effort by hoteliers and local authorities, have committed themselves to the promotion of different tourism products to eradicate "Drunkenness Tourism", fight against seasonality and thus become an example of transformation.

The hoteliers, led by Meliá Hotels International, have invested in renovating their properties and adapting their facilities to a family, MICE or "adult only" tourism that allows them to increase average prices and the quality of the tourist.

The Magaluf transformation project has involved six years of work and more than €230m invested in hotel facilities and public services, led by the improvement of Magaluf Avenue which has become a boulevard with more space for pedestrians and the ability to boost shops with the expansion of sidewalks.

Investment has already begun to yield the expected return. Meliá Hotels already receives a very different kind of client, led by families and adult couples, who represent 70% of their bookings, compared to 22% of young people and 8% of other profiles.

Torremolinos, on the other hand, is a tourist town that reached its greatest success in the 1960s and has many similarities to Magaluf. The municipality presented a renovation project in 2016, together with the regeneration project that has already begun in the old town.

There is no doubt that both cases will produce results in the coming years and drive a real transformation of the most mature Spanish holiday destinations.

The Interviewee

Carlos Berrozpe, General Manager, ADH Hoteles

GHM_Carlos_Berrozpe_06_color.jpgSpecialist in administration and management of tourism companies, Carlos has a broad international experience in hotels & resorts development and management as well as a solid experience in consulting and training. He is also specialist in the development of new hotel projects, feasibility studies, definition of type of installations, investment, start-up process and management of hotel operations with a mix of complementary products.

Expert in Hotel Asset Management, he has been the General Manager of Adh Hotels since 2014, having also been part previously of other hotel companies such as Occidental Hotels & Resorts, Vime Hotels & Resorts and Relais & Châteaux, as well as Consultancy firms as relevant as Crowe Horwath and Deloitte.

The Author

Carlos Nieto, Director, Christie & Co España & Portugal

CN_blog.jpgCarlos holds a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of International Business (European Business School) from the Madrid Complutense University, as well as a Masters Degree in Hotel Management – he also undertook a course in Due Diligence, held in Berlin.

Carlos has previously held managerial positions in three different areas of the sector: Hotel Operator, Manager / Owner, and Real Estate and Consultant specialising in Hotels and Tourism - giving him comprehensive experience in the sector. Carlos has worked for both Vincci Hotels and Metrovacesa, where he became a specialist in domestic and international hotel expansion. 

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