The warmth and culture of Spain’s Andalucia region was on display this week, at a workshop for travel professionals eager to learn more about this popular European destination.
Let’s Talk About Andalucia came to Toronto on Wednesday evening (preceded by a stop in Montreal and followed by a Chicago event taking place today), offering agents the chance to sit down and chat one-on-one with exhibitors from the region, followed by a dinner and flamenco performance showcasing the culture of the region.
Nine exhibitors were on hand, including representatives from the Tourist Boards of Malaga and Costa Del Sol, Ave City Network, Viajes Euroamerica, Tecnica Incentives, Hotel Melia Costa Del Sol, Hotel Pyr Marbella, Hotel Pyr Fuengirola and Paradores.
Laura Pena Alberdi, director of the Tourist Office of Spain in Toronto, said that the unique blending of cultures that has shaped Andalucia over the centuries - exemplified by the architecture and monuments of both Islamic and Christian origins - has resulted in a modern-day Andalucian lifestyle that is a major tourist draw, describing the region’s residents as approaching life “as an art, with passion,” with an emphasis on food and drink.
“It reflects this mixture of cultures and it’s something that is very unique to the region,” said Alberdi.
In addition to the character of the region, Andalucia also features the renowned beaches of Costa Del Sol along the northern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern edges of the Atlantic Ocean, another major tourist draw particularly for travellers departing colder climates, she said.
Alberdi said that of the approximately 250,000 Canadian arrivals in Spain in 2013, 40,000 of those travellers ventured to Andalucia, with the region’s artistic, cultural and culinary aspects being the destination's main attractions for Canadians.
Antonio Martin-Machuca Ales, Chief International Marketing Officer for Andalucia, said that Canadian arrivals to the region are more or less equally divided amongst the three main gateways of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, adding that Transat currently offers direct flights to the Spanish province of Malaga (located within Andalucia) from Toronto and Montreal between January and October. Rail connections to Malaga are also available for tourists travelling from cities such as Madrid, he said.
“Andalucia is a complete destination with a lot to offer in terms of culture and gastronomy," he said. “I think for North American travellers, Andalucia is the real Spain that they have in their minds.”