An Interview With FITUR Director Ana Larrañaga

Ana Larranaga, Director, FITURAna Larranaga, Director, FITUR

TRAVEL WORLD NEWS: Innovation and competitiveness are two of the great challenges facing the tourist industry today. To what extent does FITUR cater for these concerns within the industry?

MISS LARRAÑAGA: Within the ever-changing and globalised tourism market of today, innovation and competitiveness constitute the key with regard to companies’ development and success. The fact that Spain is a world-wide point of reference within the field of tourism and occupies a leading position as a foreign destination clearly complements the country’s characteristics as a destination. Underpinning this market is a strong business fabric that has developed a valuable corpus of tourism know-how, based on high levels of specialisation and the ongoing study and implementation of improvements with regard to the management of different realms of the tourism business.

In this respect, being fully conscious of the importance of this know-how, FITUR has sought to make its own contribution with regard to the needs and challenges of the industry, based on the creation of a new and unique initiative on the international scene, namely the FITUR KNOW-HOW & EXPORT Forum, which seeks to add a value-added dimension to the business and innovation prospects of companies operating within the field. This initiative is promoted by the fair, in conjunction with SEGITUR and the Spanish Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX), with a view to promoting the value of expertise and experience within the tourist industry as a means of boosting innovation and development. Around thirty companies that have already confirmed their participation will present their potential, their know-how and their experiences, as well as their products and services, to buyers from other foreign markets, thus providing a series of tourism models that can be exported.

In this sense, we aim to contribute to the industry’s progress by highlighting the directions in which tourism is currently moving, based on an integral perspective of tourism management, one that encompasses everything ranging from consulting and strategic planning to the development of tourism technology and e-commerce, not to mention tourism marketing, infrastructures and facilities, technologies designed to boost tourism facilities, the environment and sustainability, the social-health sector and, of course, the management of tourism enterprises. All of this is backed by the activities organised by the UNWTO, which will feature the participation of tourist authorities from all over the world, who will be presenting their tourism projects, strategies and tenders, together with other business opportunities.

TWN: What initiatives has FITUR set up in order to promote business activity amongst the tourism companies attending the fair?

MISS LARRAÑAGA: FITUR’s main objective is to facilitate meetings between companies and buyers through a series of initiatives that seek to ensure that the participants obtain the highest possible returns on their investment in the fair. In this respect, we can highlight the fact that FITUR has once again invited important buyers from all over the world to attend the fair, based on a closed programme of trade meetings that enable the guests to gain a detailed insight into the products and services of the participating companies and destinations. On this occasion we have even gone a step further by taking the commercial interests of the exhibitors into account, offering them the possibility of directly inviting their buyers or potential buyers to the fair so that they can establish contact and manage their deals and operations.

These B2B meetings will take place within the framework of the Third Hosted Buyers Workshop, having produced some excellent results in the past in terms of providing access to new markets, strategic alliances and trade opportunities. They constitute the most direct means of enabling participants to promote their products world-wide and generate business within the context of the fair itself, thus optimising their resources and their participation at the event.
These trade meetings have proven to be highly effective in previous years. Specifically, at FITUR 2012 around 1,800 trade appointments took place at the different workshops that were organised within the framework of the fair: INVESTOUR for the Americas, INVESTOUR Africa and the Hosted Buyers Workshop.

TWN: What benefits will participants derive from the fact that FITUR serves as a key hub for the Latin American market?

MISS LARRAÑAGA: Spain is the leading investor in Latin America, based on the high levels of penetration that Spanish companies present within the main sectors of production. In fact, in 2011 Spain’s investment came to 7,000 million euros, whilst the level of employment generated by Spanish companies throughout the Region came to two and a half million workers. These figures speak for themselves regarding the important role that Spain plays within many sectors, and especially within the tourist industry, as part of the trade relations that exist between Spain and Latin America.

In this sense, FITUR effectively serves as a hub for the Latin American tourist market and this is a characteristic that sets the fair apart from other events, constituting one of its most valuable and appealing aspects. The growing presence of Latin American destinations at the fair and the strong attendance of tourism professionals from the different countries that make up this fast-growing Region, reflect the considerable degree of interest on the part of Latin American companies in the European and Asian markets, with FITUR serving as the best gateway to these regions for receptive tourism operators.

In order to cater for this demand, FITUR has organised the forum known as INVESTUR for the Americas, a specific programme that promotes exchange between companies and institutions from Latin America and foreign buyers, based on a series of B2B meetings, which will form part of the Third Hosted Buyers Workshop.

TWN: How does FITUR cater for the latest new trends on the international tourism market?

MISS LARRAÑAGA: FITUR is committed to the idea of innovation, always based on new trends and new market needs. In this respect, in addition to its most important new initiative on this occasion, in the form of the business forum known as FITUR KNOW HOW & EXPORT, the fair will incorporate a new forum devoted to wine tourism and hotels, as well as forums that focus on various areas of interest or of up-and-coming importance within the tourism business, such as tourism efficiency, the application of technology to tourism and the specialized sections known as FITUR LGBT. All of these initiatives offer important tools to tourism professionals and, in this respect, we seek to make our contribution to the future growth of the tourist industry.