A destination of choice

Madrid City Council

The Tourism Area of the Madrid City Council is working to attract greater tourist numbers from markets across the Middle East, such as the UAE.

The Tourism Area of the Madrid City Council is hard at work to promote the capital in the Middle Eastern market, in line with a new strategic plan and commitment to those emerging markets that provide a greater return on investment and more economic impact for the city. The objective is to continue advancing the recovery of Madrid’s tourism sector in the wake of COVID-19 and position the city as a great European capital. The countries of the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, are strategic for the city of Madrid, standing out for the high-spending profile of their visitors.

There are many aspects to the plan, including the promotion of better air connectivity with the region, as well as reinforcing tourist products such as gastronomy, culture, heritage, and shopping. To achieve this, the Madrid City Council contemplates public-private action plans that include alliances with companies that have the most experience in relevant actions, sectoral agreements with the most representative associations of tourism products, the creation of unique and differentiating experiences with respect to competing destinations, the development of inspiring routes through all corners of the city, the promotion of a cultural transformation and an adaptation to the new needs of the tourist, and a commitment to the education and training of professionals in the sector.

The vast majority of the actions carried out, both at origin and destination, have gone hand in hand with the collaboration of Turespaña, through its office in Abu Dhabi. The Tourism Area of the Madrid City Council has made numerous familiarization (FAM) trips in which it has been able to show, first-hand, the great offer that Madrid can offer to travelers from this region, especially those from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the two most important markets in the region. In these FAM Trips, it has had the collaboration of airlines such as Emirates, Saudia Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.

In the field of promotion actions at origin, officials from the Madrid City Council have attended the Arabian Travel Market Fair annually in recent years, which is held in April-May, except in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. It is a face-to-face fair where many other Spanish destinations and companies also participate. But even with the possibility of holding personal meetings with agencies in the region, it is not a fair with a specific B2B format. That is why, since 2022, officials have begun to attend the ILTM Arabia, which does have an exclusive B2B format, and the agency profile of which is much more oriented to the premium segment and is held on the same dates and at the same facilities as the ATM. The Madrid City Council was able to close its participation this year with a resounding success of meetings, positive feedback, and great desire to promote its destination by recommending travel to Madrid.

Elsewhere, the capital participates in the Commercial Mission of the Spanish Luxury Association, an initiative that promotes the excellence of “Made in Spain” companies and products, public institutions, and receptive agencies, hotels, and Spanish tourism agents. Madrid is one of the main protagonists of promotional action through an intense program of work in the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which includes presentations to major tourism travel agencies in the luxury segment and meetings with prescribers in both cities, institutions, as well as with the media and influencers.

The City Council is thus once again committed to public-private collaboration, the backbone of its Strategic Tourism Plan 2021-2023, and to carrying out actions with specialized actors to give visibility to the Madrid destination.

During these conferences, Madrid will highlight all the novelties and tourist resources that have led it to become a first-class destination that offers unique experiences to its visitors. It is quality and safe destination that has evolved in recent years, incorporating the offer of large international hotel chains and the most exclusive gastronomic and shopping proposals; developing new tourist and cultural axes as a result of the reorganization of its urban spaces and highlighting others, such as the Landscape of Light, which has world recognition by UNESCO; protecting its traditions and crafts; and promoting the particular lifestyle that makes Madrid such a unique city. According to the Delegate Councilor for Tourism of the Madrid City Council, Almudena Maíllo, “The objective is to publicize this diversification of the Madrid destination to encourage the choice of the capital over other European destinations, a benchmark for high-impact tourism that contributes directly to the increase in stay and average spending in our city”.

In addition to participating in the Commercial Mission of the Spanish Luxury Association, the Delegated Area of Tourism of the Madrid City Council developed plans for more than 20 promotional actions during the first four months of the year to promote this type of tourism.

And within the framework of an agreement established with Qatar Airways,  multiple advertising campaigns that began last December were carried out successfully to continue giving visibility to the Madrid destination among the company’s passengers and potential visitors.

And now is the right time to invest. Over 31 million tourists descended on Spanish shores in 2021, an increase of 64% on the figure in 2020, the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. And over the course of the year, they spent EUR34.82 billion, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). And while countries from the Arabian Peninsula don’t currently feature in the top-20 source countries for inbound tourists to the Iberian nation, the potential for growth is clear. Indeed, Saudi Arabian and Emirati tourists both feature in lists of the top-five international tourist spenders, alongside Kuwait, China, and Australia, according to study released by the Visa at the Arabian Travel Market. Indeed, research also suggests that Emirati travelers are more likely to make trips to Europe in summer, with shopping at the top of the agenda.

With all this in mind, the Tourism Area of the Madrid City Council is dedicated to reinforcing the importance of the UAE market for Madrid due to the high-spending, high-impact nature of Emirati visitors. This organization will continue to position the Madrid destination in this market in the coming years, working, at the level of the final public, in an “inspiration” phase, disseminating news on the luxury segment offering and the experiences available, and, at the b2b level, working closely with agencies so they can market the city accordingly.

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