The Valencia Region Tourist Board has opened its first overseas tourism office in London as it continues to see a fall in UK visitor numbers.
Tourism minister for the region, Angelica Such, said although UK visitor numbers are not as bad as they were in January and February, when numbers were up to 26% down year on year, June’s figures were still 8% down on the previous year.
It is hoped the new tourist office will help showcase the region, where Brits make up 45% of visitors.
Such said: “We want to show our commitment to the British market by making our destination more accessible than ever. By having a local office, we can give British visitors all the information they need to plan their trip to the region of Valencia.”
She said about €2.6 million is being spent on marketing the destination in the UK. Joint trade initiatives and direct consumer advertising are proving effective.
To mark the opening of the tourism office in Seymour Street, ABTA chairman John McEwan, Institute of Travel and Tourism chairman Steven Freudmann and Association of Independent Tour Operators executive director Kate Kenward attended a meeting to discuss business to Valencia, which has suffered a similar drop in tourist numbers as much of the rest of Spain.
McEwan said: “The key is to focus on 2010 and really look at what needs to be marketed. It is fundamental to change people’s perceptions of legacy destinations such as Benidorm.”
Freudmann agreed it was up to the tourist board to help the destination drop its image as being stuck in the past.
He said: “We would encourage it to market itself as a 21st century destination. They need to recognise perception is reality, and the challenge is to get some of our industry to visit the region.
“I went over there in March and there are new developments established two miles behind the coast in the foothills of the mountains.
“There are some fabulous hotels there with shopping malls and golf courses, and I didn’t see a single Brit there, they were all Spanish and German tourists.”