Catalonia targets two million visitors from APAC by 2020

David Miro speaking at a Catalonia event

The Catalonia region in Spain is aiming to attract two million visitors from the Asia-Pacific by 2020.

David Miro, Catalan Tourist Board’s Asia-Pacific regional director, told TTG Asia: “We are targeting Japan first as it is our most mature market and is currently sending more tourists to Catalonia than any other Asian country. This is followed by China then South Korea – where its tourists to Catalonia has increased by 65 per cent over the past few years.”

To do this, promotional campaigns will be rolled out across Asia. For the coming year, there are plans afoot to conduct social media promotions and the Catalan Tourist Board will be running more press trips for bloggers all over Asia-Pacific to raise awareness, as well as creating a wine and gastronomy showroom in Tokyo.

Miro added: “We are also republishing our digital guide in Korean and Japanese. The itineraries in the English guide will be updated as well. We also plan to conduct workshops – alongside Catalan companies – in Japan and South Korea for local tour operators.”

The Asia-Pacific market has grown exponentially over the past few years and is currently responsible for 20 per cent of all international expenditure in Catalunya. In 2015, the total number of Asia-Pacific visitors was 1.2 million, while 2016 is on track to receive 1.5 million visitors by the end of the year.

Since 2012, the Singapore-based Catalan Tourist Board has represented Catalonia as a tourist destination to markets in the Asia-Pacific such as South Korea, Japan, all South-east Asian countries, and India. The Chinese markets (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) are handled by another office in Beijing.

When asked if new air links are coming to Asia, Miro said that the Catalan Tourist Board has high hopes for a year-round direct flight from Seoul to Barcelona, considering that the route is already serviced by a seasonal chartered flight between April and July, and October and November.

The current lack of direct flights from Asia however, is attributed to the policy of prioritising Madrid Airport links as stipulated by AENA, Spain’s Air Navigation Authority.

He lamented: “There are a few airlines that want to fly direct to Barcelona from Japan, India, and Hong Kong, but they have ended up flying to Madrid (due to the policy).”

However, all is not lost as Barcelona will be hosting the World Route Development Forum in September, and Miro is hopeful that the forum will allow the 3,000 delegates to explore Barcelona’s airport facilities and experience Catalonia.

He opines that this will help pave the way for more direct flights between Asia’s capitals and Barcelona in the near future.

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