Spain’s tourism moving inland

Spain’s tourism moving inland
Everyone knows popular Spanish seaside resorts such as Benidorm but no one knows the rest of the country, says a tourism promotion official. (Shuttersstock)
Short Url
Updated 27 January 2020

Spain’s tourism moving inland

Spain’s tourism moving inland
  • Foreigners account for 20% of all visitors to northern Asturias region in 2019, up from 10% a decade ago

MADRID: 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 fight off stiff competition from cheaper Mediterranean rivals.

Foreign visitors accounted for just 5 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.

“We must have done something right,” the ministry’s director for sustainable tourism, Ricardo Blanco, said at the five-day Fitur tourism trade fair in Madrid which wraps up Sunday.

Spain, the world’s second-most visited country after France, hit a record for 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 center 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.

Asturias has benefited from renewed interest in the historical Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route which passes through the region. And the local government has boosted promotion of the region’s natural parks for hiking, cycling and eco-tourism in other European countries as well as Japan and South Korea, where there is strong interest in the pilgrimage route known in English as the “Saint James Way.”

The scenario is similar in the neighboring northwestern region of Galicia where the number of foreign tourists has nearly doubled over the past 10 years.

The pilgrimage route ends in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia, and services catering to tourists have sprouted up in the region such as wine tours and horseback riding in a bid to attract the visitors.

Many pilgrims return to Galicia to go sightseeing and take part in these activities, said Carmen Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the region’s tourism board.

But interior regions “remain very hard to sell online” to tourists, said Cristina Brunet, who owns several bed and breakfasts in the northern city of Palencia in the Castilla-Leon region, one of Spain’s most depopulated areas. Tourists looking for places to spend their holidays type the names of regions they already know into search engines, and the government does not take part in enough tourism fairs outside of Spain to promote the interior, she added.

“Everyone has heard of Marbella, Torremolinos and Benidorm but no one knows the rest of the country,” said Eduardo Gutierrez of public tourism innovation body Segittur, in a reference to three popular seaside resorts on Spain’s southern coast.

Rural residents who want to open a bed and breakfast or other tourism-related project often lack internet connections and struggle to get loans, added Maria Teresa Lopez, president of the federation of rural women’s associations (Fademur).


Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
Updated 15 June 2021

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects

Saudi National Development Fund targets infrastructure projects
  • The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals"

RIYADH: The Saudi National Development Fund is preparing to launch a new fund targeting infrastructure projects in the Kingdom.
The capital of the new fund could "reach several billion royals", Asharq Business reported, citing unidentified sources.
Muhammad bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, deputy chairman of the National Development Fund said in February that the Kingdom had started to work  on the launch of an infrastructure fund.
Saudi Arabia launched an ambitious SR12 trillion ($3.2 trillion) program in March to boost the role of the private sector in diversifying the economy.
Under the 'Shareek program', private sector businesses will be helped to invest SR5 trillion between now and 2030, along with SR3 trillion from the country's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and SR4 trillion as part of a new national investment strategy.

 


Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
Updated 15 June 2021

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale

Omani Octal said to weigh $800m majority stake sale
  • A sale could value Octal at about $800 million

RIYADH: Octal, an Omani plastics packaging manufacturer, is considering a majority stake sale, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
A sale could value Octal at about $800 million, one of the people said. The company is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co., the people said, asking not to be identified for information confidentiality.  
The Muscat-based company has already attracted strategic suitors in Asia and the US, they said.
Octal was founded in 2006 and produces plastic used to package food and consumer products. The company is present in Oman, Saudi Arabia and the US and ships its products to more than 75 countries, according to its website.
The potential sale would add to the $96 billion of deals targeting companies in the Middle East and Africa this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs
Updated 15 June 2021

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs

Egypt clothing exports hit by surging shipping costs
  • Rising container costs are affecting both their imports of raw material as well as their export of finished garments according to Mohamed Kassem

RIYADH: Egyptian clothing manufacturers are being hammered by surging shipping costs.

Rising container costs are affecting both their imports of raw material as well as their export of finished garments according to Mohamed Kassem, a member of the Egyptian Exporters Association.

Fabrics from China account for most of the country’s clothing exports, he told Al Arabiya.
The cost of shipping a 40-feet container from Shanghai to an Egyptian port has rocketed to as much as $14,000 compared to $2,500 before the pandemic, he said.
That has led to increased competitive pressures for Egyptian textiles exporters from rivals in Asia.
He called on the state to intervene to help support the industry.


Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall
Updated 15 June 2021

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall

Indian shares close at record highs as pandemic curbs ease, cases fall
  • Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the national capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed shops and malls to open as the number of new cases dropped to the lowest in more than two months

BENGALURU: Indian shares ended at record highs on Tuesday, as declining COVID-19 infections prompted many states to re-open businesses, with a rally in broader markets also helping the sentiment.
The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.36 percent to 15,869.25 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex climbed 0.42 percent to 52,773.05 at close.
Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the national capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed shops and malls to open as the number of new cases dropped to the lowest in more than two months.
India on Tuesday reported 60,471 new infections, the lowest since March 31.
The sentiment also tracked global stocks that hit a record high, as investors bet likely “transitory” inflation pressures will restrain the US Federal Reserve from signalling a shift in policy settings.
Many investors expect the Fed to maintain its dovish stance at its two-day meeting starting on Tuesday. Some board members, however, have said the central bank should start discussing tapering its bond buying.
In Mumbai trading, financial stocks provided a boost to the Nifty 50, with ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank ending 1.6 percent and 0.7 percent higher, respectively.
The Nifty Bank Index and the Nifty Private Bank Index, which have so far gained more than 0.55 percent this week, were among the top performers across sub-indexes rising between 0.85 percent and 1.07 percent.
Software services firm Infosys rose 0.8 percent, lifting the Nifty IT index by 0.23 percent.
Shares of Future Retail closed 10 percent higher, after staying at those levels since early trade.


Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
Updated 15 June 2021

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan

Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills ready to open biggest water park in Jordan
  • It will open on July 3
  • The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan

DUBAI: The Saraya Aqaba Waterpark – billed as the biggest in Jordan – is opening its doors on July 3.
Located in the country’s only coastal city, Aqaba, the park spans an area of more than 28,500 square meters. It has rides, slides, as well as food and beverage stalls.
“At Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, guests from all around the world are in for an aquatic adventure like no other with slides, rides and experiences suitable for guests of all ages,” Chris Van Der Merwe, its general manager said in a statement.
The park was developed by Abu Dhabi-headquartered Eagle Hills, one of the largest developers in Jordan, and is operated by Abu Dhabi-based Farah Experience, which also handles Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Theme parks and other physical attractions have taken a hit when the pandemic forced countries to restrict people’s mobility, however some are now welcoming guests again as attractions make a gradual return.