By Julia Pastor, in Madrid | On Wednesday, the International Tourism Fair Fitur 2012 was inagurated in Madrid. This anual event is the most important of the sector in Spain and it will be open until January 22. This year’s edition is marked by the crisis and the resulting financial adjustments made by the autonomic regions, but also by the widespread notion that the tourism sector is the only one that can help Spain overcome the crisis.
This year Fitur will need less exhibition space: 65,000 sq m as opposed to last year’s 75,000 or the 100,000 it required in the good ol’ times when the economy was growing. For this fair there will be 9% fewer regional exhibitors, as they have gone from 10,434 in 2011 to 9,500 this edition. However, business participation has increased by 4% and internacional participation has gone up to 20%.
It is expected that the Minister of Industry, José Manuel Soria confirms at the inauguration what he already commented when he took up his position at the Ministry: tourism is going to be the power engine of the Spanish economy and all must make sure it is competitive. For the moment, president Mariano Rajoy has announced at the VI Forum of Tourism Excellency or Exceltur (considered the prelude to Fitur) the creation of an Integral Tourism Plan. Rajoy said that the next trimester the reform of th
e sector that contributes more than 10% to the Spanish GDP shall be designed. Salaries are going be established based on the evolution of the economic activity and the situation of the companies. Also, there will be a clear promotion of innovation and encouragement to young entrepreneurs.
The plan shall also include a diversification of the tourism offer and an adaptation to the new demand of mature destinations. Another aspect that it will deal with is the Spanish market’s excessively seasonal occupation of the hotel infrastructure. Various regional presidents who atteded the Forum underlined the importance of this plan for the sector. Paulino Rivero, president of the autonomic region of the Canary Islands pointed out that
“tourism is the only industrial activity capable in the short term to generate an important economic influx and improve competitiveness.” He also commented that “only this sector can activate the construction industry without consuming land.”
King Juan Carlos, who was also present at the convention, agreed with this positive view:
“tourism helps alleviate the plight of unemployment.”
After three years of decline, tourism closed 2011 with a growth of 8.1% and output rose by 2.6%, according to data provided last week by the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Tourism.