Spain seeks to improve in luxury tourism with higher spending per visitor

If the pandemic was a great blow to tourism, the war in Ukraine and the economic consequences that it has generated with an uncontrollable rise in prices have dealt a new blow to luxury tourism. Although within the sector they are hopeful and believe that Spain still has room to grow as a destination for tourists seeking luxury and position itself among the great European benchmarks, for which it is necessary to train employees and get more visitors during their stay, according to the owner and CEO of the luxury travel agency Plenia Travel, Paulo Ribeiro.

In an interview with EFE, Ribeiro explains that the highest category hotels will lower their prices in 2023 and points out that the upper middle class has “difficulties” to continue traveling at the level they did before the pandemic. At the same time, he explains that North American citizens have saved high-level tourism after the pandemic, which has been reactivated in a special way in the second half of this year, to the point that the figures for December 2022 were already at levels similar to those of 2019.

Spain must gain positions in average spending

Luxury tourism in Spain has a lot of room for growth, especially if you look at the average spending figures, which here stand at 860 euros per person; in Paris and London, around 2,000 euros, and in Italy, at 6,000 euros, according to figures from the Círculo Fortuny Luxury Association.

The recovery of spending, points out the CEO of Plenia, is the key to positioning itself next to the great destinations, and for this there are elements that help, such as the growing strength of restaurants or the foundation of hotels of the most exclusive chains in the world .

However, “the great challenge is to offer sufficient services” and logistical capacity, in addition to training, “which is not easy in the luxury hotel industry” to be at the level of Paris and London, the two great benchmarks of luxury in Europe.

Asia gains ground in luxury tourism

In 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, the destinations most in demand by Plenia’s clients were the Maldives, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Middle East. As restrictions began to be relaxed and countries opened their borders, preferences shifted to Thailand, Bali, Polynesia and Japan.

In the post-pandemic months, luxury tourism was saved by Americans, who are the ones who traveled the world and kept prices high. For the full recovery of tourism – says Ribeiro – it is necessary for the airlines to replace all the flights, because customers want to fly directly, without stops.

The profile of the tourist with a high budget to travel has not changed, he continues to ask for unique experiences, trips in private planes or first class, luxury hotels, private visits to museums… but he does detect that the upper-middle class has more difficulties to do this type of travel than in 2019.

It is because after the pandemic the prices of hotels and flights have risen much higher than inflation: if then a flight to Dubai in “business” class cost 4,000 euros, now it rises to 6,000 , Explain. But the rise in prices that hotels have experienced “is going to normalize”, in his opinion, “because in the world of luxury there are more hotels than clients”.

By way of example, he points out that Madrid has more and more luxury hotels, “which will have to stabilize prices because today they are double what they were in 2019”, although in the capital of Spain the cost of a luxury room is cheaper than London or Paris because of the difference in purchasing power parity, he says.

Member of Virtuoso, the most select club

Plenia aspires to return to billing around five million euros in 2023, at levels similar to those before the Covid, although now the perimeter is different because the agency has been reorganized and is only dedicated to private tourism and not to corporate tourism like I did before.

In December 2022, it already managed to place its numbers at the same values ​​as that month in 2019, but the year as a whole was weak, especially since the first semester was bad for tourism in general due to the last wave of covid worldwide. .

The agency was born in 2012, but Ribeiro joined two years ago. It does not have offices at street level because everything is done online and in direct relationship with the client, for which they have a team of 18 travel advisors throughout Europe. It is a member of Virtuoso -which brings together the best five-star hotels in the world (Mandarin, Four Seasons, Rosewood among others) and the best luxury agencies, among which there are only five Spanish ones- and of Vita By Leading Hotels of the World, consortia that are only accessible by invitation.

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