Beyond Benidorm: Spain tourism moves inland

  • Tuesday 28, January 2020 11:11 AM
  • Beyond Benidorm: Spain tourism moves inland
Sharjah24 – AFP: Rural and green travel is the new frontier for Spain's tourism industry as it tries to break free from its dependence on mass seaside travel and fights off stiff competition from cheaper Mediterranean rivals.
Foreign visitors accounted for just five percent of all tourists who stayed at a rural home in the country in 2014.

Today they make up 20 percent, according to the tourism ministry, a share the government wants to rise to 35 percent.

Spain, the world's second-most visited country after France, hit a record of tourist arrivals for the seventh year in a row last year, with nearly 84 million foreign visitors.

But the big resorts which started out in the 1960s along the country's southern coastline saw profits fall by 0.7 percent as sunseekers from northern Europe returned to less expensive destinations in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt which they had shunned for years due to security concerns.

By contrast foreign tourism grew by "almost double digits" in Spain's green northern coast, and did well in the arid and underpopulated centre which is home to medieval architecture, according to a recent report from tourism company lobby group Exceltur which wants to end a reliance on "sun and beach" tourism.

In the northern Asturias region, where a moist climate gives rise to a wealth of forests and rich vegetation, the government's efforts have "started to bear fruit", said the regional government's deputy tourism minister Graciela Blanco.

The region, which has long been popular with Spaniards, welcomed a record 400,000 foreign visitors last year.

Foreigners accounted for 20 percent of all visitors to Asturias in 2019, up from 10 percent a decade ago.