Spain's tourist industry still has great growth potential and has a long way to go yet to reach the share of the international market it deserves. The secretary of state for tourism, Juan José Güemes, said yesterday that despite the drop in tourism figures this year, Spain is still a number one European destination and that there are a number of areas in the tourist industry which have massive growth potential. While the Balearics and the Canaries have experienced an alarming fall in German tourism, so far the Balearics has witnessed a 25 per cent slump in the German market, the gap in the markets have been filled by the British and, somewhat unexpectedly, by the domestic Spanish market. This summer mainland tour operators and travel agents have been offering highly competitive offers on Balearic holidays which in turn have sold well over the past month. However, the Balearics needs to continue pushing alternative tourism and not fall back on sun and sand. Güemes said yesterday that Spain is well established as “a world leader for sun and sand,” but the secretary of state believes that, in particular, the growth areas are cultural tourism and gastronomy. Latest reports state that one on three Europeans who want sea, sand and sun, chose Spain “we have a 33 per cent share of the sunshine market, but cultural tourism in Spain accounts for just eight per cent of the European market while just as many Europeans take sunshine holidays each year as those who want culture.” Güemes stressed however, that while new areas of the market are being developed, Spain has to push ahead with making sure it provides maximum value for money to ward off stiff competition from other Mediterranean destinations. “Our reputation must be based on quality, not price,” he said. Güemes praised the hotel sector for its efforts to improve the level of quality and the authorities for investing in the environment and infrastructure “in 1995 no more than 25 per cent of the hotel sector had three or more stars, but in six years the market share has risen to 30 per cent,” he added. mc.mdbUbitel.es

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