Spain Spending More To Attract 2007 Visitors

by : Roger Munns

Ever since the 1960's, when overseas travel became available to the masses, Spain and her islands have consistently been the favourite destination for Britons, Germans, Swedes and other Europeans.

Even when longer haul destinations in Europe like Cyprus, Malta and Greece became possible, and later holidays in Florida and even more recently Australia became economically viable for more people, Spain has maintained her popularity.

Part of the appeal of Spain is that it is just a short flight away from the UK, with Majorca and Menorca, two of the popular Spanish islands, taking under two hours from London's Gatwick Airport. Fares have dropped dramatically in recent years with the advent of low cost airlines flying to Mallorca, Menorca and mainland Spain, making the possibility of more than one visit a year to the island by many tourists a reality.

Such was the appeal of Spain and the opportunity to holiday abroad in the 1960's and 70's parts of Spain saw a rapid hotel and holiday complex building programme, with some areas changing from quiet coastal villages to concrete jungles, but despite this the tourists still flocked in, later to consider other areas that hadn't been developed as much. Emerging holiday destinations view the development of Spain in the early days of mass tourism with caution, and Spain itself has introduced tougher building and planning regulations to ensure their initial errors aren't repeated by developers ever anxious to build a new hotel complex.

New competition from Eastern European countries is a threat to Spain's holiday market dominance, and the decision has been made to spend some money on advertising the Balearics in particular to the British and German markets.

The three Balearic Islands of Menorca, Majorca and Ibiza might be close to each other, but they are all different in character and the type of tourist they typically attract, making the advertising campaign necessarily a diverse one to reach the different markets for the three different Balearic islands. A surprise for example is that the amount of time spent on Ibiza by each tourist is longer than on Menorca and Majorca - destroying the myth that Ibiza is primarily for long weekends or short trips for a couple of nights in the club.

But one thing does bind the three islands - the number of tourists from Germany, UK, and the Spanish mainland - which together make up over 80 per cent of their visitors.

The UK advertising campaign for Majorca includes a team distributing information at London's Victoria Station. Trains from Victoria run several times an hour to London's Gatwick Airport, allowing easy access to Mallorca for Londoners.

One spin-off from sustained tourism in Spain has been the number of Brits and Germans moving to the country and her islands, bringing with them the money they have made from selling their businesses and homes plus a pension, boosting the local economies further.

And the tourists who decide to call Spain home are becoming more involved with their new local governments and politics. Spain seems to be the new frontier for many weary inhabitants of the crowded towns and cities in the UK and Germany. While this trend bodes well for the Spanish economy, no one yet knows what sort of impact the influx of expatriates will do for Spain's political destiny.

Today, in 2007, nearly one million former British citizens call Spain their new home, and nearly a quarter of those are eligible to vote in Spanish elections. While they are allowed to vote on national issues, they are still curtailed from voting in local or regional elections, but that may change in the near future as more immigrants arrive on the sun-soaked sands of islands like Majorca, where British voting trends have decided the results of some elections already.

The San Fulgencio area, located in the Alicante province of Spain, currently heads the lead in foreigners calling Spain home now, with three quarters of them being British. Majorca and Menorca continue to be the most popular destinations for many Britains looking for new homes, new horizons and new destinies, and only time will tell what this means overall for Spaniards.

For Spain, spending money on attracting tourists doesn't just pay off with a two week holiday and spending spree - in many cases it's a case of a much bigger prize as the tourists buy a home and convert from being a holiday maker to a full time resident.