Travel agents are urging tour operators and ground handlers to start offering tours away from Spain’s most popular coastal regions to satisfy growing demand.
Speaking at the Loving Andalucia British Tourist Trade Forum in Malaga last week, Travel Counsellors chairman David Speakman said that, following the demise of both Magic of Spain and Mundi Color in the UK market, the trade has lacked specialist mainstream tour operators offering product off the beaten track.
With customers increasingly wanting holidays that do not just revolve around the beach, he argued there is a gap in the market for an operator or ground handler to exploit.
Speakman said: “We want access to that product in the UK. When someone comes in [to buy a holiday], we have to be able to locate that product and sell it.
“Someone has to collect that product together and then present it to a travel agent so there is a one-stop shop.
“We have to have the convenience; there’s no real problem with the product out there, but it is bringing it to the travel agent and putting it in front of them [that is the problem].”
He added hoteliers on the coast could also do more to offer additional experiences as well as monitor customer satisfaction more closely, in order to retain their share of the market.
Speakman said: “When the exchange rate changes, [Spanish hoteliers] say [tourists] have gone because the price has changed and it’s more expensive.
“People want to go to the same hotel year on year, but if you only offer sea, sun and sand, then they will follow the money. You have to create an experience.”
Villair Travel partner Mike Richardson agreed, adding: “The information is out there if we want to look for it. The problem is if we have a client with us who is going to book a holiday there’s only a certain amount of time I can give that client and I need a seamless system to book a holiday.”
However, Association of Independent Tour Operators chairman Derek Moore said as many as 30 of his association’s members are already offering Spanish product away from the country’s main resorts. He added that agents should start considering using AITO members.
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