Tourism Industry News
Spain Balances Tourism with Environmental Needs
Spain’s tourism officials completed an inventory of the country’s tourism infrastructure and carefully made plans for future development. Last year they laid the groundwork in a comprehensive strategic document, the Plan del Turismo Horizonte 2020, Tourism Plan Horizon 2020, designed to improve the quality of the country’s tourism product by the year 2020.
To ensure that Spain stays competitive in today’s marketplace, officials understand that it is vital to develop business models that are environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable. Protection of the country’s natural scenery as well as its wealth of cultural monuments is vital.
To that end the country has allocated $1.9 billion annually and identified a number of measures to be adopted –encourage social responsibility about conservation and the environment and develop cutting-edge prototypes that break new ground in terms of sustainability.
By the end of 2008, Spain will have welcomed some 58 million visitors, a slight decrease from the record year of 2007, but certainly acceptable given the current world economic crisis which began last fall. American arrivals are expected to be over the million mark, which is basically the same as last year.
Tourism revenues last year were $56.86 billion, and the industry currently contributes 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. One focus of Spain’s strategic plan is enticing visitors to Spain’s lesser-known and less-developed regions.
Interestingly, several areas that have taken the initiative are in regions of the country that are not that familiar to American travelers, like the wine area of Ribera del Duero, the northern region of Asturias and Aragón which last year hosted the International Expo under the theme, “Water and Sustainable Development.”