- “Spain is the most biologically diverse country in Europe and the world leader in Biosphere Reserves”
- “Agriculture, fishing and food in Spain are synonymous with variety and quality”
- “FITUR helps us spread the word on the quality of our country’s gastronomy, its natural riches and its rural development”
What are the main attractions and challenges of Spanish tourism regarding MAPAMA?
The attractions are many. For one, agriculture, fishing and food are synonymous with variety and quality. According to the Royal Academy of Gastronomy, 15% of the international tourists who visited Spain in 2016 came for the gastronomy. If we take that resounding number and add the Ministry’s other large branch, the Environment, we get our offering for FITUR: “Landscapes and Flavours of Spain”, the communion born of joining the Spain of sweeping landscape and the Spain of delicious flavours. Both are brimming with colour, tradition and quality of life. The great challenge is to keep strengthening tourism while also striking a balance with our duty to preserve our natural heritage.
What role does the environment and sustainability play in all that?
A vital role. Taking care of the environment means improving the quality of our air, our coasts, our mountains… but also of where we carry out the many activities of our daily life. It means taking care of the diversity of the landscapes, also configured by our farmers, where we enjoy sports fishing or where our shepherds bring their cattle to graze. Protecting our varied and diverse landscapes means protecting spaces that are also marked by our ways of life. And it means protecting our places of enjoyment and leisure, and allowing us to share them with those who come to discover us and enjoy ecotourism here, for instance.
Indeed: we have to take care of our country environmentally, as rich and uniquely diverse and plural as it is in its peoples, its landscapes, its models of farming… and in its gastronomy, with its local differences marked by those different models of farming.
MAPAMA will go to FITUR to promote gastronomy, nature trails, national parks. How will these tourism segments be interrelated?
They fit together perfectly. Because each National Park or the nearly 10,000 kilometres in the Network of Nature Trails, which now has more than 130 routes all over Spain, is directly linked to the land and to a historical gastronomy of food prepared with nearby products of the highest quality and a very special flavour.
I feel very fortunate to be heading a Ministry where the Environment, the National Parks, the food industry, Coasts, Sea and Rural Development are all interrelated horizontally so as to show off the best of Spain to the tourists who come to meet us. A significant part of the Ministry will be here at FITUR, proud to show our way of being and way of living and the setting where we do both.
They will also be giving special emphasis to biodiversity and the marine reserves. Can you let us in on some of the main messages?
“Spain is the most biologically diverse country in Europe, home to 85,000 different species. It provides more surface area to the Nature 2000 Network than any other country in Europe, and we are world leaders in Biosphere Reserves. Another interesting thing is that more than 54% of animal species in Europe live in Spain; we have the biological richness of our 15 National Parks and 11 marine reserves.
We are a land of landscapes and diverse nature: from the lush green of Asturias to the desert of Almería, from the Pyrenees Mountains to the marshlands of Doñana, from the landscapes around our large cities to the scarcely populated flatlands of Extremadura and La Mancha. That diversity is an absolute richness that makes Spain unique and special. We are fortunate, and should be conscious of it.
How do you think a Trade Show like FITUR can help strengthen tourism and the activity of the businesses in the industry?
FITUR is a global benchmark in the tourism industry; and we are lucky enough to have it headquartered in Spain, because FITUR itself is a great attraction on its own for many people from different countries. It is a ‘must-go’ event on everyone’s list, and is organised here, which also helps us spread the word on the quality of our country’s gastronomy, its natural riches and its rural development.