Spain's gastronomy, culture and shopping have always been its strong attractions for tourists, and these remain the very assets that the country's tourism players are tapping on to beckon travellers from Southeast Asia.
Monica Sanchez, Director - Spain Tourism Board for Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, said, “Our strategy in Southeast Asia is based on attracting travellers interested in culture, gastronomy, nature and traditions, willing to learn about the destination, preserve and protect it.
"We are a very family-oriented country so multi-generational trips can find the right fit in Spain……We encourage Southeast Asians to get away from the ‘touristic itineraries and discover the Spain that the locals know and enjoy," Sanchez aded.
It is hence fitting that the sights, sounds and gastronomy of Catalonia were highlighted to Singapore buyers at the recent Catalonia Workplace workshop, which was hosted by the Catalonia Tourism Board together with the Spain Tourism Board in the virtual presence of Spanish tourism operators.
Taahira Ayoob, Asia Pacific Marketing Executive at Catalonia Tourism Board said, "We are also targeting foodies, adventure enthusiasts and culture lovers. We will work with airlines connecting with Barcelona from Southeast Asia and high-end Virtuoso agents to curate itineraries for the first group of travellers from the region to Catalonia."
“At present, we are looking at high-end travellers who can travel for seven to 14 days to Europe," according to Ayoob.
Singapore is identified as one of the 10 countries outside of the European Union permitted to enter Spain without quarantine or vaccine since the European borders reopened on 7 June.
For Catalonia Tourism Board, Barcelona is one of the four most visited capital cities in Spain next to Madrid, Seville and Alicante, according to Ayoob. The board is also targeting Thailand in Southeast Asia, and Japan and South Korea in North Asia.
Ayoob added that cultural attractions such as the Gaudi buildings – Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, shopping precincts like Passeig de Gràcia for sightseeing and shopping and Catalonia’s gastronomic offerings appeal to the Singapore travellers.
At the Catalonia Workplace, buyers were given a virtual preview of the Grand Tour of Catalonia from operators - Barcelona Premium, The Real Thing, Barcelona Art of Travel and Dorna Motors.
With the growing popularity of driving holidays, the new Grand Tour of Catalonia was launched to match the needs of visitors post pandemic. Offering 2,000km of circular itineraries linking the most iconic natural and cultural sites in the region, from the Pyrenees mountains to the 500 km of Mediterranean coastline, the tour can be done in 13 days or shorter to suit individual needs.
Sanchez added, “Singaporeans normally stay at four- and five-star hotels or boutique hotels and paradores. Given how easy it is to move from one city to another in Spain, by high speed train or by road, it is really easy to enjoy several cities and attractions with no rush and get to know the locals.”
Sanchez shared that Southeast Asian visitors to Spain numbered nearly 290,000 in 2019. Singapore and the Philippines form the two biggest visitor markets for Spain.