Last October 14th we returned to Tierras de Granadilla and Valle del Ambroz, in the north of Extremadura, invited by Extremadura’s General Directorate of Tourism to take part in the Second Conference on Sport Tourism in Extremadura.
Extremadura, as a tourist destination, has been working on diversifying its tourism for a long time and are fully aware of the possibilities offered by their territory for nature tourism and sport tourism. Fascinating landscapes, high biodiversity, history, culture and cuisine form a region that has plenty to offer to the visitor. We further agree with their tourism managers in the importance given to the creation of tourist products as key elements to assist the marketing of the proposals leading tourism to generate local economic benefits.
With these premises, our return to El Anillo was comforting. Besides, when we got there in that October morning, we had a gift: first to hear and then to see the first cranes of the season, coming from any of our northern neighbors for the winter. A fantastic show by Gabriel y Galán reservoir, a visual and audible postcard.
The Second Conference of Sport Tourism in Extremadura was very interesting. After the usual introductions, it fell upon to us to begin with the presentations. Our proposal was “cycling potential for the revitalization of the territory” where we address the needs of a territory to generate product of tourism by bike and show, through various examples, how this form of tourism contribute to the benefits of a territory.
We leave here our presentation, in case it is of your interest.
After ours, presentations went on and it was the turn of Juanma Murua who stated the critical note, absolutely necessary, remarking that we cannot expect to develop tourism at any price and that we have to take into account the potential negative impacts of activities both socially and environmentally. I really liked his speech, with an approach in which we fully agree, relying on endogenous development and local participation in decision-making; all these issues that led us one day to fund the Centro Español de Turismo Responsable (Spanish Centre for Responsible Tourism). A great discovery also his blog, Economía en chándal, highly recommended.
The morning went on with José Antonio Fernández from the town of Ayamonte in Huelva, who shared his model of municipal sports management and how companies and sport cubs have been integrated in it in a transnational European project with Portugal.
Later, it was the turn of Iván Velasco from GMM Consultores Turísticos with whom we already had the pleasure of sharing some similar events, who talked about interior Nautical Tourism in Extremadura, exposing perfectly how the region has enormous potential but very little tourism product created, which means that it is very difficult yet to reach the market.
After lunch, in which we were delighted with some delicious food (yes, there was some red meat also, but it was so tasty…), we get to the afternoon session.
A very interesting round table on which there were some friends, with whom we have coincided elsewhere and in many of the ideas presented: Raul Villacampa, from Bikefriendly; Chema Ramón, owner of La Casa del Río and Manuel Carrillo, who I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting before, from Hotel HO Ciudad de Jaén.
Three different proposals that have some common key features:
- To have identified specific needs of a client group.
- Provide solutions to those needs.
- To segment offerings and services, having clearly defined customer profile they seek.
Bikefriendly creating a value proposition based on accommodation and tourist facilities designed for guests traveling by bicycle which already has more than 140 member hotels. Chema from La Casa del Río, talked about how he has been segmenting his proposals and now pets and fishermen are his strengths. He presented ANGLER FRIENDLY, a differentiating seal of quality for those accommodation services offering specific services and spaces adapted to the needs of fishermen. Last case was Hotel H0 Ciudad de Jaén, Manuel Carrillo explained us how they adopted sport as a symbol of identity and how they have specialized through sports facilities and accommodations to host different sports teams.
We want to congratulate David Cerro and his company Soluciones Wellness for the excellent organization and the Tourism General Director, Francisco Martín for his involvement and bet on sports tourism, active tourism and nature tourism as hallmarks of Extremadura.
Finally, two comments, one negative in despite of I liked the conference and they encourage expectations. Things seem to be repeated always the same and we have taken part in more conferences like this, in Extremadura and elsewhere. They are alright but not enough, we know how to do many things but, of course, they have to be done, we have to get work under way and that means giving more capacity to local businesses and planning the tourism product development thinking early on customers and marketing channels. It is very easy to fall back on past mistakes, so we are forced to repeat: a route, an itinerary, however beautiful it is, it is not a tourist product. In our opinion, we do not need more routes, we need more product.
My positive comment, I slept in Hervás (a great village I recommend visiting if you have not done it already) two nights and I get to greet many friends in the conference and later on; and I could also check as the idea that the Greenway Vía Verde de la Ruta de la Plata is perceived as a reality close and desired. Around this proposal, we think that an attractive tourism product for cyclists and walkers could be created and it would be a boost to the development of the Eurovelo network in Extremadura.
Congratulations for betting such an exciting project!!