Increasing Russian Tourist Flow No Longer a Priority for Catalonia

Alina Khorosheva, 26.03.2014 12:20
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The objective of increasing Russian tourist flow to Catalonia has become a thing of the past. This year the country is planning on maintaining last year’s results in regard to tourist flow from Russia. This was reported during a press conference at MITT-2014 by Catalonia’s Deputy Enterprise and Employment Minister Pere Torres.

According to him, out of 1 million Russian tourists who visited the region last year, 70% came with families and children.

Catalan autonomous government has declared 2014 the Year of Family Tourism, tying it in with the celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the International Year of the Family.

This sector will be of top priority for us in 2014. We will do our best to make our family guests feel welcome and comfortable here. We have more than 200 events planned as part of this massive initiative. They include sightseeing trips for tour operators and reporters, press conferences and presentations. There will be special discounts, rewards and gifts for family tourists. We will also create a special website devoted to the Year of Family Tourism and launch an ad campaign on social networks. As for the Russian market, it is just as important for us as the largest European markets – France, Germany, etc. However, we do not plan on making a point of topping any numbers from previous years. We do not really favor numbers – we see that as missing the point,” added the deputy minister.

He also said that this year the region came up with a number of new programs for the market. For instance, in the middle of December of 2013, a high-speed rail between Catalonia and France was launched. The following train routes are now operational: Barcelona – Paris, Barcelona – Toulouse and Barcelona – Lyon, which lets tour operators create new and exciting excursion programs. The time it takes to get from Barcelona to the French capital is 6 hours 25 minutes, to Toulouse – 3 hours, to Lyon – 5 hours. According to preliminary forecasts, passenger flow for these destinations can reach 1 million people within the first year.

Also, a new rank of hotels has been instituted in Catalonia – gastronomic hotels. All hotels that have no more than 50 rooms can apply for a voluntary certification and get this rank. Participation in the program implies that aside from good accommodation, the hotel will also offer a wide selection of dishes of Catalan cuisine, made from local products only. The criteria for this new rank have been devised by the Head Tourism Office of Catalonia in collaboration with the Catalan Gastronomic Association and the Catalan Institute of Cuisine.

Another new offer has to do with Catalonia’s cultural program for 2014. Theme park PortAventura will house daily shows of the famous Canadian ‘Cirque du Soleil’. Its new production ‘Kooza’ can be visited by 2,400 people a day.

The park also signed an agreement with the Ferrari concern, which will let the latter realize the company’s theme project on the park’s premises.

The year of 2014 is looking to be a great one for the Russian market working with Catalonia,” summed up Pere Torres, citing tour operators’ expectations.

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