The boss of the Spanish Tourist Board has described travel agents as the organisation’s “closest allies” in boosting the country’s inbound tourism.
Miguel Sanz Castedo, director general for Turespaña, said he wants people to discover more of Spain beyond the most popular destinations in 2022, adding agents will play a crucial part in doing that.
“Agents are the closest allies to tourist officers and destination management officers because they are our commercial force,” he told Travel Weekly. “They’re the ones who inspire clients and customers to visit destinations and buy attractions.”
Castedo, who was previously the director of tourism for Madrid, said visitors to Spain are traditionally “loyal” and tend to head to the same locations when they visit – but he wants those repeat visitors to see more of the country.
“We have very loyal visitors to Spain,” he added. “When we last checked, we found that more than 50% of people who come to Spain for their vacations have been to the country more than 10 times.
“They often go to the same destinations each time they visit, but of course Spain has much more to offer, and we need agents to tell these people about the unknown cities and coastal resorts of Spain, whether they’re in Andalusia or the north of the country.
“We need agents to tell their clients about the natural resources in Spain, about the national parks, the heritage and the many destinations in Spain which are unknown to the average British holidaymaker.”
In 2018, the Spanish Tourist Board launched a training platform for travel agents called the Spain Specialist Programme (SSP), which features 11 modules that “transport agents on a journey through Spain”, from Andalusia in the south to the Basque Country in the north.
“Travel agents are still the most trusted source of information for travellers,” Castedo said. “Holidaymakers might trust things they see on social media or things they hear from their friends and family, but ultimately the travel agent remains the single most trusted source of knowledge, and for us it’s a quality source.
“When people need to discover new places and more about their favourite places, it’s travel agents they turn to.”