05.03.2024 | 05:05
Luis Martín, General Director of Tourism of the Community of Madrid

“Madrid has recovered 100% of pre-pandemic international tourism”

The destination leads the spending of international visitors arriving in Spain 12 October, 2022

The situation is undoubtedly very positive. The Community of Madrid has achieved a repositioning in the international tourism market in record time, the tourism offer is more competitive and attractive to tourists than ever and the response from demand is very good.

Provisionally, how do you consider tourism in Madrid so far in 2022?

Last July, we recovered the entire volume of international demand which we had before the pandemic, we were the first autonomous community to achieve this alongside the Canary Islands – in the height of summer and despite the fact that we are not a sun and beach destination and that the Asian markets have not yet been reactivated. But the most important thing is that Madrid continues to grow in tourist spending generated by foreign tourists who visit us, leading this indicator in the national group.

How do you assess the participation of the British market in Madrid's tourist offer? What is the situation of this important issuing country and where is it going?

The British market has traditionally been one of the most important outbound markets for us. In 2019 it was the fourth most important market in the Community of Madrid - after the United States, France and Italy - with more than 560,000 tourists and showed great growth compared to previous years. In 2021, although with fewer arrivals, it maintained that fourth position, and in the first seven months of 2022, 67% more British tourists arrived in the region compared to the total figure for 2021. We hope that by the end of the year we will come close to the complete recovery of this market.

The United Kingdom is now a priority market for us in the shopping tourism product, since British citizens can benefit from tax-free shopping on their trips via the European Union.

In your experience, what do British visitors like and value the most in Madrid?

Unlike the rest of the main Spanish tourist regions, British visitors in Madrid are motivated by its cultural offering and secondly for business and meetings. As well as the capital’s offering of heritage and museums, we are noticing a growing interest in the cultural agenda and visits to other cultural destinations in Madrid such as Aranjuez, San Lorenzo de Escorial and Alcalá de Henares.

Other important attractions are gastronomy, which they greatly value and since the United Kingdom left the European Union, our shopping for tourists offer. It should be noted that the region's food, wine and shopping offering has recently undergone a great qualitative leap. The British visitors in Madrid have a far higher socio-economic profile than those who visit other Spanish destinations.

The cultural offering has always been a strong point for Madrid. What new features will tourists find in 2022 and which are expected in 2023?

Madrid's cultural agenda is probably currently the most important and attractive one in Europe. In September, 11 musicals premiered in the capital and the level of the exhibitions, both in the areas managed by the Community of Madrid and by the Ministry of Culture, and in the festivals has increasingly improved.

The MICE segment has returned to normal after two convulsive years due to the pandemic and in fact it is growing. How do you describe the current timing of this offer?

Madrid is one of the main European business centres, it has recently been distinguished as the best meeting destination in the world and the trade fair offer is unbeatable. In this second half of 2022 we are experiencing the recovery of the MICE segment, the agenda is full. The autumn forecasts are very good and there is optimism in the sector, the tourist renaissance which we are experiencing is also being transferred to the MICE market.

The MICE offer is very varied and competitive in hotels, unique venues, trade fairs, congress palaces, etc. and it is improving considerably. And it is also spreading to other sectors of our offer such as gastronomic areas, shopping, nightlife venues or flamenco tablaos [venues]. There are countless new proposals and many others which are imminent, but without a doubt our great opportunity is incentive tourism, for which we have immense potential.

Recently, Madrid has been positioning itself as a pole of attraction for luxury tourism. What are the main arguments for that? Why should a British opt for this destination?

Madrid is experiencing a true tourist renaissance which permits this repositioning in the international tourist market. This renaissance responds to many factors such as the fact that the big international hotel brands have chosen to be in Madrid (and many others that are yet to come); that the cultural and leisure agenda is the most important we have ever had or the extraordinary improvement of our gastronomic or shopping offer, to name but a few. Madrid is now a priority destination for tourism investment.

For British tourists, Madrid's quality-price competitiveness compared to other major European tourist capitals is highly valued. The excellent connectivity is also a strength and now we are also a very attractive tax free destination for the British. In fact, we are targeting our promotional strategy for this market.

Are all air connections with the UK recovering well, are they even being extended? What’s more, rail transport is improving. What movements are being made?

Currently, the Madrid airport has a direct connection with nine British airports, highlighting the connectivity with the London metropolitan area, the most interesting from an outbound point of view.

The air capacity between Madrid and the United Kingdom is already very similar to what we had before the pandemic and recently some airlines have announced new connections and higher frequencies, so we hope that we will soon have better connectivity than in 2019.

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