Andalusia targets big-spending Russian tourists

Region wishes to emulate Catalonia’s success in attracting visitors from eastern giant

Málaga -

Andalusian authorities do not want to be left behind in the race for the lucrative Russian market. Its tourism department has scheduled an intensive promotional campaign in Moscow and St Petersburg for after the summer, while the regional government also plans to open a tourism office in the Russian capital.

Together with China and India, Russia is one of the priority emerging markets for Andalusian leaders, particularly because the amount of Russian visitors has grown by two-digit rates since 2007. And that's despite the fact that Russian tourists favor other Spanish regions - such as Catalonia, the Balearics and the Canary Islands - even more.

The Andalusian tourism commissioner, Rafael Rodríguez of the United Left, which is the Socialist Party's governing partner in the southern region, said last Wednesday that one of Catalonia's "great successes" in the tourism department was its specific targeting of the Russian market.

Right now, Andalusia registers Spain's fourth-highest rate of hotel stays by Russians. In the last five years, the number of Russian visitors to the region has doubled, and flights have increased by 90 percent. Yet the commissioner said other parts of Spain "have done a better job than Andalusia."

"Andalusia has moved forward, but not enough," he added. "There is still a lot of work left to do." That work includes coordinating with tourism boards and the private sector to increase the number of flights and hotel stays, as well as the average vacation time spent by Russians in Andalusia. The region's official tourism website will also be translated into Russian.

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