Spain wants Indian tourists, filmmakers


MUMBAI, India – Spain, the world’s third most visited country after France and China, is pulling out all stops to make it big with Indian visitors this year, eyeing a 40 percent growth over the past year, when 70,000 Indians visited the North Atlantic country.

The optimism comes on the back of a 65 percent spike in the visas issued to Indians to visit Spain till August this year — as a primary destination, and not as a mere pit-stop on the European tour.

Spanish Tourism has also announced a USD 1-million spend in consumer and trade promotion in the country beginning this month, under the theme of `I need Spain’. During the year so far, Spain, which nets over 11 percent of its GDP from tourism, has seen a 35 percent growth in arrivals.

“During the first half of 2011, there was a 35 percent growth in arrivals with over 53,000 Indians visiting Spain for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) alone, contributing 20 percent of the total Indian arrivals. And we hope to close the year with 40 percent more Indians visiting our country this year than last year,” said Spanish Deputy Tourism Minister Joan Mesquida Ferrando here.

Spain is the world’s third largest MICE country and the Corporate India too has been charmed by this destination with over 40 MICE groups visiting this year.

“We believe India is a huge market,” said Director at the Spanish Embassy’s Tourism Department, Arturo Ortiz.

“When I look at India, I see a great opportunity to offer my country as a world-class, year-round destination to Indians,” Ortiz, who will be overseeing the promotional activities of Spain here, added.

This year Spain expects to receive nearly 57 million tourists. Stating that his strategy is to reposition Spain as a standalone destination, Ortiz said, “Rather than having Spain as a part of the European tour itinerary for two-three days, we want the tourists to stay for six-seven days with us. We would also like to portray Spain as all-year destination.”

Another key strategy is to offer huge tax discounts, to the tune of 18 percent, besides subsidies to Indian film producers, Ferrando said. This comes in the wake of the huge popularity of the Hindi flick `Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, 90 percent of which was shot with the help Spanish film commission.

The film was such a success that it had over 10 million viewers and 3 million downloads of its half-Spanish song `Senorita’ in a country of under 4-million, Oritz said.