Craftsmanship, the magnet of Spain to attract rich tourism

The country attracts only 13% of high-end visitors, compared to 36% from France or 31% from the UK.

Spain manages to attract only 13% of tourists with high purchasing power. This type of traveler is scarce, only 0.5% of all those who move around the world, but their spending capacity is such that, despite its proportion, concentrate 17% of total tax-free sales or duty-free, moving about 90,000 million euros annually around the globe. In other words, “they spend between 50,000 and 210,000 euros a year on their trips, especially in jewellery and fashion, and Spain has to fight to attract more of them”. This was explained yesterday by Jacques Stern, CEO of Global Blue, during the presentation of the report El turista de lujo en España, ¿un desconocido? (The luxury tourist in Spain, ¿un desconocido?), framed in the Excellence Day organized by the Fortuny Circle, the employers’ association of luxury companies in the country.

Photo: Philip Swinburn
Photo: Philip Swinburn

In this way, despite the fact that Spain is the second country in the world in terms of the number of tourist arrivals – after France -, it occupies the seventh place in the table of rich regions willing to spend. First place also goes to France, which attracts 36% of them, followed by the United Kingdom and Italy, both with a 31% share. Moreover, those who choose Spain as their destination do not do so under the same conditions: they spend 62% less than in the main markets. In figures, said Stern, “the country only captures 37% of the budget of travelers, with an average expenditure of 22,000 euros. In other areas, such as the United Kingdom, the outlay is 60%, which translates into 35,000 euros in purchases.

For all these reasons, stressed Stern, Spain has to make an effort to know its potential visitors, “knowing how they are, what they are looking for and what can be offered as a destination. As a help, Global Blue presented the radiography of the prototype of luxury tourist: an Asian woman -preferably china-, millennial, who travels between three and four times a year and sleeps between 5 and 10 nights per trip.

Carlos Falcó, president of the Fortuny Circle and of the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance (ECCIA), which brings together the respective employers’ associations of France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as Spain, continued. “In the last six years, the EU economy has grown at an annual rate of 3%. In the same period, the luxury sector has grown by 6%, representing 10% of the Union’s exports. We are talking about a bottle of Vega Sicilia, a Hermès handkerchief, a Porsche. That’s craftsmanship, and in Spain we have plenty”.

It is a sector, Falcó added, which also contributes to revitalising and developing rural areas in Spain, “whether Ubrique for its skins or La Rioja for its wines. This excellence must be a fundamental part of the future of Spain and Europe”. Craftsmanship, continued the secretary general of the Fortuny Circle, Almudena Arpón de Mendívil, “is care, time, detail. It preserves culture and history, and those are two poles of attraction for the elite tourism we aspire to in Spain. The world seems to have shrunk, with low-cost ephemeral products, and craftsmanship emerges as a counterpoint to authenticity,” she added.

From outside Spain they point in the same direction. Guy Salter, president of London Craft Week, an annual event that shows craftsmanship through travel and visits to hidden workshops of luxury manufacturers, explained how they have “grown a lot in recent years, because buyers and producers are evolving and we are a common space for crafts around the world. The director of the Italian Michelangelo Foundation, Alberto Cavalli, also encouraged Spain and companies in the world to value their products and services: “Promoting craftsmanship and know-how is also a way of promoting the territory. Even more so in a country like this, which has so much to offer in this field,” he said.

Many small businesses, such as the Navascues sewing studio or the Balel hat shop, are opening their doors to the inside and devoting themselves to enhancing local craftsmanship. On the contrary, there are others that are recognised in the world, such as the Felipe Conde guitar shop, which already sells 92% of its instruments outside of Spain, or Lladró, “where we continue to maintain our manufacturing rhythms, a year and a half goes by between the conception and completion of a piece”, stressed Nieves Contreras, director of design and creativity at the Valencian firm.

Attracting luxury tourism, in the words of the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, is “one of the objectives” of the new consistory of the city, formed by PP and Cs thanks to the support of Vox. “Luxury companies are of a family nature, very imbricated in the city. We want to promote high-end tourism, the visitor who spends 260 euros a day or more. Madrid has everything necessary to attract these profiles who are looking for the cultural, gastronomic or shopping experience. That’s why we support institutions like the Fortuny Circle,” he said at the closing ceremony of the event.

Author: Pablo Sempere. Cinco dias