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STAFF REPORTER

LONDON
ABOUT 70 percent of tourists visiting Spain still come for the beaches and the weather.
The country “continues to have a great dependence on sun and beach tourism”, said Ignacio Vasallo, the Director of the Spanish Office of Tourism in London.

Vasallo was speaking during the STEPS tourist fair, which is held annually in London, and is the only fair that is devoted exclusively to Spanish tourism.

He said “more than 70 percent of the tourists come to Spain for the sun and the beach”.
The Balearics, the Canaries and Benidorm are the destinations in Spain that have traditionally attracted the most tourists, he pointed out.
However, Vasallo was upbeat about the future of other forms of tourism in Spain.
He said “cultural tourism was already very strong” with the remainder of visitors attracted by the cultural attractions of the country.
Spain is the most popular destination among British holidaymakers.
Traditionally, there were 10 airports serving British tourists throughout Spain, most of them close to beach resorts. Currently airlines fly direct to 27 airports, many of them located in the centre of the country.

Vassallo said that these new destinations, such as Valladolid and Zaragoza, represented a new type of tourism, which Spain was in a good position to avail of.

He added that rural tourism, though in its infancy, was in great demand from Britons and was an area with great potential for growth.
STEPS is in its eighth year and featured 80 stands from all sectors of the tourist industry, including hotel chains and tour operators. Simon Calder, the travel editor of The Independent, acted as moderator during seminars about the Spanish tourist sector and the British market, and the growth in train travel as an alternative to flying.

Galicia and Gran Canaria gave presentations during the fair during which participants were invited to enjoy the local produce of the two destinations.