Spanish travel industry happy to see China's return as major tourist destination

(Xinhua) 08:24, March 18, 2024

BARCELONA, Spain, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Professionals in Spain's travel industry are delighted about China's ongoing return to be a major tourist destination for Spanish tourists.

At the B-Travel tourism fair, which opened on Friday and closed on Sunday in Spain's Barcelona, exhibitors showcased diverse tourism products and packages to promote traveling in China.

"Our tour operators and travel agents are developing products and packages ... China has always been an important destination for Spanish tourists," Marti Sarrate, president of B-Travel and Spain's Corporate Association of Specialized Travel Agencies, told Xinhua at the fair.

After the pandemic, "we're very happy that it (China) has reactivated because it represents a significant level of quality tourism and more Spaniards are now visiting China," he added.

A tourist takes photos in a lavender field in Brihuega, Spain, July 13, 2021. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

Spanish travel agencies also applaud China's visa-free policy, which is seen as an incentive to revive the tourism sectors in China and Europe. China applied a visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from five European countries in December, including Spain. Later in January and starting from March 14, China added eight more European countries in total to its visa-free policy list on a trial basis.

Aspasia Travel, which organizes a 15-day guided tour in China that includes visits to Chinese cities like Beijing, Xi'an, Kunming and Shanghai, said China's decision to exempt Spaniards with ordinary passports from requiring a visa helps them to sell their package holiday to the country.

"Right now we are making an effort to put China back on people's radar and we have to incentivize them to go there, and something that helps with incentive is the situation with visa-free travel," Aspasia Travel Director Adonis Rahmouni told Xinhua.

Photo taken on Jan. 20, 2021 shows an empty dining area near the Montserrat Monastery in Montserrat, Spain. The monastery used to be a well noted tourist attraction in Catalonia, but few tourists are seen here since the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Joan Gosa/Xinhua)

According to Spain's tourism agency Turespana, over 60 percent of direct flights linking China and Spain before the pandemic have been restored. From March 31, Air China will have daily flights between Barcelona and Beijing while Cathay Pacific plans to restore direct flights to Hong Kong from Barcelona in June.

According to data from the Spanish Statistical Office, over 380,000 people visited Spain from China last year. However, the figure is well below the level before the pandemic, when more than 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Spain in 2019.

"Chinese tourism is important for our region and is now in the process of returning to Spain, including Andalusia, Malaga and Costa del Sol," said Jorge Martin, the president of the Axarquia-Costa del Sol town coalition, which is located in the southern region of Andalusia, one of Spain's most popular tourist destinations.

A tourist takes a photo in the old city of Toledo, Spain, Sept. 22, 2020. Tourism in Toledo has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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