The Balearics is confident that there will be a surge in domestic tourism this year, a claim I find hard to believe, but probably one of the most interesting facts to have emerged from last week’s Fitur tourism trade fair in Madrid is that rural and green travel is the new emerging market for Spain’s tourist industry as it tries to break free from its dependence on the mass sun and sea sector and fight off stiff competition from cheaper Mediterranean rivals.

Foreign visitors accounted for just five percent of all tourists who stayed at a rural home in the country in 2014.

Today they make up 20 percent, according to the tourism ministry, a share the government wants to rise to 35 percent.

“We must have done something right,” the ministry’s director for sustainable tourism, Ricardo Blanco, said at Fitur.

For example, foreign tourism grew by “almost double digits” in Spain’s green northern coast, and did well in more central regions which are home to mediaeval architecture, according to a recent report from tourism lobby group Exceltur which wants to end a reliance on “sun and beach” tourism.

Over recent years the Balearics has talked at great length about easing the emphasis off beach tourism, primarily to prolong the season and lift winter tourism. Now the booze ban is looming, perhaps it’s time to think green.

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