Focusing on FITUR
Ana Larrañaga, Director, FITUR, shares insights the most important business fair for Spain, which will be held from January, 17- 21, 2018 in Madrid
Kindly tell us a bit about FITUR. How many exhibitors and buyers are expected? What is to be the format of the business meetings? FITUR will open the international tourism trade fair calendar and allow professionals to establish the working lines that will set the pattern for the entire year. We closed the participation figures at the end of the month. We aim to grow in destinations and companies and exceed last year's 9,893 exhibitors. In line with the industry's robust health, as reflected by the UNWTO's figures of 4-5 per cent growth, we are confident of having a highly dynamic edition and of exceeding the 244,972 trade visitors from the last edition.
As for business meetings, the format contemplates holding a series of B2B and B2C previously scheduled meetings between FITUR exhibitors interested in forming part of this activity and a selection of more than 200 international hosted buyers, tour operators, travel agencies, etc. These working meetings, which amounted to 6,800 last year, will be held on January 18 and 19
in Hall 9 of FITUR. We have also developed the PEP (Professional Encounter Point) application through which exhibitors and visitors can freely schedule initiatives seeking to professionalise the trade fair and facilitate meetings.
Are there any seminars planned during the conference? If yes, kindly tell us about them? We will have varied activities starting on Tuesday January 16, the day before the opening of FITUR, with the staging of the Exceltur Forum and the Latin American Conference for Tourism Ministers and Businessmen, CIMET. In addition, during the first three days of the trade fair, which are exclusively devoted to trade visitors, we will have conferences, presentations and knowledge and innovation forums in each one of the specialised sections: FiturtechY, Fitur Health; Fitur KnowHow & Export, Fitur LGBT, Fitur Shopping and, as a novelty this year, Fitur Festivals. FITUR will host different activities organised respectively by the UNWTO, Investur Africa, Casa Asia as well as sessions and presentations by various
business associations, tour operators, carriers and technology companies, among many others.
During the weekend, the days when the trade fair opens its doors to the public, hundreds of entertaining and interactive activities have been scheduled.
Which new exhibitors should one really look out for at the event?
For us the entire FITUR offer is of great interest, but if we focus on this edition's novelties, I would highlight the presence of India as FITUR's partner country and consequently the wide array of proposals for promoting the destination that will be staged by this Asian power. The India Hall is in fact registering an overall increase of 35 per cent in participation, with the presence of more regions and business.
Other novelties we should not lose sight of are those involving technology, specifically the presentation of 5G prototypes for the tourism industry, as a result of the work being undertaken since September by a team of researchers in the IFEMA LAB 5G. It is offering a vision of a not very distant future that will completely transform the way we experience and manage tourism, thanks to access to virtually unlimited communications, data and computing services in real time.
Lastly, I would highlight the incorporation of the new FITUR Festivals section, which will showcase the potential for the tourism industry of festivals and the destinations that host them.
How has FITUR helped to increase inbound as well as outbound tourism to Spain over the years? How has the show grown in stature? Our task is to place the best platform for professional and trade meetings at the industry's disposal and therefore to gather around FITUR the broadest representation of international industry, both public and private. This is all packed into five days of intense activity in which we situate the entire national and international tourism offer in a highly dynamic showcase of extraordinary visibility and of course with major business potential. As for trade fair growth, we expect to exceed the five per cent figure.
What is Spain planning to showcase during FITUR 2018?
FITUR will echo the broad and diverse Spanish tourism offerings in the halls occupied by all of our country's autonomous communities and regions as well as the numerous stands of tourism companies specialising in fields such as transportation, accommodation, tour operators and, of course, technology. A comprehensive offer that in 2017, and for the second consecutive time, has positioned the Spanish tourism industry as the most competitive in the world, according to the report issued every two years by the World Economic Forum. In this regard, FITUR visitors will view a comprehensive display of the coastal and inland tourism typologies offered by our country, its natural resources, gastronomy, cultural offering, music –in the new FITUR Festivals section, tourist services and infrastructures, airport and port connections, health tourism – in FITUR Health, shopping tourism in FITUR Shopping, Gay tourism in FITUR LGBT, security and preparedness for ICTs, among many other proposals. Plus, as I already mentioned, FITUR will anticipate the future with a pioneering experience that will provide an overview of the potential of 5G technology for the tourism industry by presenting
The India Hall is in fact registering an overall increase of 35 per cent in participation
a series of really interesting prototypes. We will also have technology as the connecting thread in the FiturtechY section, which will showcase the innovations that are transforming the industry.
How is the MICE industry doing in Spain? Which important international conferences are lined up for 2018?
MICE tourism is, without a doubt, a key resource in the continuing expansion and quest for improvements in our country's meetings industry. In fact, Spain holds on to fifth place in the 2017 ranking of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and Madrid –the site of FITUR– was recently chosen by industry professionals as the best MICE 2017 destination, according to the Iberian Business Travel Association – IBTA; a recognition that puts the finishing touch on the positive balance with which the capital closed 2017 and on which IFEMA's activity made a special impact, both in regard to the organisation of trade fairs, conventions and congresses area. Several important international congresses and the return to IFEMA of the largest world gathering of the pharmaceutical ingredients industry, CPhI, with Feria de Madrid facilities and with more than 35,000 attendees arriving from around the world, confirms 2018 as a record year. How has inbound tourism to Spain grown? From where does Spain get its maximum tourists? Where does India stand?
Tourism in Spain enjoys very good health; in 2016 it received 75.3 million travellers and is one of the three most visited countries in the world according to the UNWTO. The largest number of tourists received last year came from the EU, mainly United Kingdom, France and Germany, and this year it expects to break a new visitor record according to forecasts of our country's Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda. Regarding tourists from East Asia, and India in particular, increases were also registered which, according to the UNWTO, stood at 18.42 per cent in 2016.
Madrid was recently chosen as the best MICE 2017 destination, as per IBTA
Madrid seems to have overtaken Paris as the gastronomic capital of the world. Your comment on this.
In effect, a Spanish city, San Sebastián in the Basque Country, was chosen the World's Best Gastronomic Destination according to an international survey that also places Barcelona and Madrid in fourth and seventh place respectively. Product quality and culinary variety are undoubtedly some of our country's major tourist attractions and we will confirm this at FITUR not only at the Basque Country stand but also in those of the rest of the regions, which have an equally powerful gastronomic offer that at this time is another of the major motivations for travelling.