Spain keen on more cinema projects like ZNMD to boost outreach, says Director Ignacio Gutierrez

Spain has been a major beneficiary of cinema based outreach. Post ZNMD, the Mediterranean country has attracted significant numbers from Indian shores. The Tourism board is keen on more such projects and working actively with cinema industry stakeholders, shared Ignacio Ducasse Gutierrez, Director, Tourism Office of Spain in India. We bring you an exclusive interview with the Director on plans for outreach in the Indian market.

How Cinema outreach transformed Spain in the Indian market: The prowess of celluloid in instilling an indelible image of a destination is a settled debate. Spain is a shining example of how cinema can transform a destination from little public awareness to high prominence. It is not that Spain was unknown to Indian masses, but with limited knowledge of its products and experiences on offer, it remained off the radar of the Indian outbound for many years, a trend further exacerbated by no direct air-connectivity. It was only post the release of Zindgi Naa Milegi Dobaraa, a critically acclaimed Hindi cinema shot extensively in Spain, that Indian travellers got a detailed insight into the beauty of Spanish countryside, its bustling cities, and lively festivals, transforming an relatively unknown European nation, in the eyes of the Indian outbound, in to a must visit nation.

Ignacio Ducasse Gutierrez, Director, Tourism Office of Spain in India recounts the impact of the movie, sharing that it had profoundly altered tourism numbers in the years that followed.  “For us the movie ZNMD was a turning point. I think tourism numbers from India doubled post 2011-12 and we believe that a great part of it was due to the movie” he says. “Road trips like the one taken in the movie has become a popular tourist itinerary,” adds the Director. 

Having tasted extraordinary success with cinema outreach, we enquired whether the tourism office was looking at more such ventures to solidify outreach in the Indian market. Director Ignacio shares that the office “is working very closely with Bollywood producers and have regular contact with many producers and others.”“The fact is that you need the project. If we get some other project like ZNMD, we are going to jump on it. We have some cinema projects going on, smaller ones, and we are trying to cooperate with them,” details Ignacio Gutierrez.

From ZNMD to Game of Thrones, cinema tourism boosting outreach

While it may not be an Indian project, but probably the biggest engagement in terms of cinema tourism, right now, in Spain is the shooting of famous TV series, Game of Thrones, the Director notes.  “A major part of the seventh season of the series was filmed in Spain – which has worked wonderfully for us in promotions. I know it is not an Indian production, but we would love to get some more Indian projects,” he says.

Indian outbound highest spenders, ‘special’

In terms of sheer numbers, India stands far behind some of the European countries that have become key source markets for Spain. However, despite smaller numbers, the Indian outbound is packing a punch. “Logically, our key markets are from the neighbouring European region – The United Kingdom, Germany and France. We get over a million tourists from each of them. Compare that to India, we had 1,00,000 visitors in 2016. When you compare it to other destinations, India numbers may not be much, but we see great potential in the Indian market. We are sure that we will increase the number of visitors to our country,” he says. Highlighting the ‘special character’ of the Indian outbound, the Director explains that while much of tourism in the country is confined to Summers and destinations in the coastal region, Indians prefer to travel all-year-round. “They (The Indian outbound) is also interested in culture, cities and itineraries. They have much larger spending in the country than other nationals coming in to Spain,” he says.

Taking stock of how the Indian outbound is shaping, the family segment has emerged as one of the strongest components. “Indians travel with their families and they want to see a bit of everything. Cities like Barcelona and Madrid, and in down south, beside sampling the culture and heritage,” says Ignacio. He adds that Indians are also taking to adventure sports.

The way forward: It has been a stellar year for Spain’s tourism. Official figures suggest that the Mediterranean country has pulled off a never before feat – attracting over ten million international travellers in one month. July 2017 figures leave no ambiguity around Spain’s stature as a world-class destination. A closer scrutiny of numbers and patterns reveal that most of the Europe has taken to Spain. Heading the list is the Great Britain, followed by France and Germany. There has been a noticeable rise in numbers from Switzerland too. While Indian numbers are comparatively insignificant, the potential in the market makes India a key source market for Spain.

Going ahead, Spain will deploy a double strategy in the Indian market, we were told. “On one hand, we will promote destinations that we think should be interesting for the Indian tourists, like the north of Spain – which is very green and beautiful, and has lovely gastronomy – and The Canary Islands which has a large presence of the Indian community. It has spring weather all year round,” he shares.

The second aspect of India strategy involves tapping new segments like adventure tourism which will attract young travellers to Spanish shores. It is highly likely that Spain will continue to see robust footfalls from India. With the stupendous success with cinema outreach, it will do well to deploy similar strategies moving forward.

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