On 7 and 8 October, Madrid hosted the 5th Shopping, Tourism & Economy Summit, the number one European summit dedicated exclusively to quality tourism with high purchasing power. MARCO de Comunicación participated in the international forum providing its vision on country brands. Founder and CEO Didier Lagae, alongside other relevant speakers linked to the tourism sector, aimed to analyse and promote the attraction of quality tourists with high purchasing power as an engine for economic and social growth in Spain.

Under the heading, Inspiring the future: Long-distance travellers. Towards a sustainable tourism oriented towards people, during the current edition of the forum, the different speakers invited to participate offered their professional opinion on key topics in the sector, such as sustainability, the reputation and perception of the country, and the 4.0 revolution, and have analysed the progress made by Spain in this regard.

The round table moderated by Daniel Rodríguez, journalist and summit host, was dedicated to the ‘Promotion of Spain: reputation and perception in distant markets’ and had the participation of Didier Lagae, Founder and CEO of MARCO, Víctor Badorrey, Director of Institutional Relations at Segittur, Ángela Castaño, Deputy Director General of Marketing at Turespaña, Jorge Martínez-Arroyo, President of the Association for the Development of Customer Experience, and Belén González Olmos, Deputy Director General of Tourism, Science and Technology Statistics at the National Statistics Institute.

Didier Lagae, Founder and CEO of MARCO, demonstrated how “a country brand is the difference between being and not being. Reality is, when it comes to country branding, the starting point, while perception depends on how you communicate. It’s key, in order to develop a country brand for tourism, to understand who we’re competing with, what our priorities are, what tourist profile interests us and who the messages we want to spread are aimed at, in order to attract them“. To reinforce this message, the CEO of MARCO shared a video on the success case of Tourism for Mexico, where he showed how the agency managed to increase tourism in Mexico, moving in 5 years from 15th to 8th place among the most visited countries in the world according to the UNWTO ranking, and doubling the number of tourists from 20 to 40 million.

Víctor Badorrey, Director of Institutional Relations of Segittur, affirmed that “Spain is the most competitive country in the world in tourism according to the World Economic Forum’s biannual report, for the second consecutive time, and what makes a country competitive in tourism are its destinations”. According to Badorrey, “we are developing tools for destinations to incorporate new forms of management and organisation, based on new technologies and innovation”.

According to Ángela Castaño, Deputy Director General of Marketing at Turespaña, “our country is characterised by diversity. We don’t have an icon like the Eiffel Tower in France, but we do have intangible elements that favour us, like our way of life. All Spanish organisations must go hand in hand. If the commitment to distant markets and quality tourism is serious, it must be accompanied by an ambitious plan for presence abroad”. Angela Castaño affirmed that “it would be desirable for a leading tourist destination like Spain to have a higher promotional budget for distant markets where we are still working on positioning”.

Belén González Olmos, Deputy Director General for Tourism, Science and Technology Statistics at the National Statistics Institute,stated that “Spain is in second place in terms of the number of visitors and tourist expenditure. Traditional visiting countries are stagnating and the number of visits from distant countries is growing”.

This 5th edition of the European summit was attended by other key figures in the sector, such as Emilio Butragueño, Director of Institutional Relations at Real Madrid Football Club, Irene Lozano, Secretary of State of Spain Global, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, Mayor of Madrid, Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the Organising Committee of the Shopping Tourism & Economy Summit Madrid 2019 and Luis Gallego, Executive President of Iberia, among others. Also taking part were Celestino García, Corporate Vice President of Samsung, Isaías Táboas, President of RENFE, Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council, Manuel Butler, Executive Director, World Tourism Organization, Javier Marín, General Director of Airports, AENA, Sanjay Verma, Ambassador of India in Spain, Hong-jo Chun, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Spain, Lyu Fan, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Spain, Carlos Chaguaceda, Director of Communications for the Prado Museum and Isabel Fuentes, Director of CaixaForum Madrid, among others.

Didier Lagae, who was recently named European and Global PR Professional of the Year at the PRWeek and Stevie Awards, also shared some of the conclusions from his book Country Brand, a Country as a Brand, and highlighted how “the ‘client’ who comes to Spain is looking for something more than just shopping, they are looking for gastronomy, culture, sport, a bit of beach, and so on. That’s why we have to sell a puzzle that includes everything and offer quality tourism thanks to the infrastructure we have“. However, according to Lagae, “independence is one of the factors that is most damaging to the reputation of Brand Spain. Spain’s diversity must be understood as something that adds, not something that subtracts. Faced with the division and separation of peripheral nationalisms, Spain must project a positive image, reflecting the puzzle and mix of cultures it contains, without renouncing the different personalities of each of its big cities”. In this way, he concludes that “without investment one cannot change the perception of a country. And in Spain, it is necessary to invest in the tourism sector“.

The Shopping, Tourism & Economy Summit is the only international forum that focuses on analysing and promoting the attraction of quality tourists with high purchasing power in Spain. The different speakers invited to participate in the summit have offered their professional opinion on key topics in the sector, such as sustainability, the country’s reputation and perception, or the 4.0 revolution, and have analysed the progress made by Spain in this regard. Attracting quality tourists with high purchasing power aims to act as an engine of economic and social growth in our country, as the sectors involved include a wide variety of fields with significant potential such as tourism, trade, mobility or infrastructure, among others.

Last modified: 15 October, 2019

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