A study by the University of Gerona (UdG) on the airport passenger profile raises the need to increase the prices of tourist accommodation out of season.
The dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences, Anna Garriga, highlights that the visitor who travels to the district in autumn and winter has a higher purchasing power than those who travel in summer but spends less on accommodation because hotels lower prices: "We give the possibility for those who have more money to spend more."
In this sense, the study shows that the Costa Brava has a lot of potential to attract visitors with "high purchasing power" outside of the hottest months.
"The winter sun is what tourists who visit Girona in autumn and winter value most." This is stated by the dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the UdG, Anna Garriga, following a study of the passenger profile that exists at the Girona airport outside the tourist season.
Garriga presented the main conclusions of this work in a debate session organized by the Girona Tourism Board this Thursday at the Faculty of Law of the UdG.
In the presentation of the study, the dean also outlined some of the potential that the Girona terminal has and that work will have to be done to improve passenger volume. The study is the continuation of a set of surveys that were carried out in the spring and summer months of all travelers who were about to board some of the flights departing from the Girona terminal.
Now, they wanted to complete this "portrait" of the traveler profile with off-season passengers. The first conclusion that Garriga has announced is that during the autumn and winter months, the Girona terminal is "very underused" and the few flights that there are "are half empty."
However, Garriga has highlighted that the few passengers there are "have a higher purchasing power" than those who visit the district in the summer months. That is why the dean believes that the Costa Brava has the potential to attract visitors with a very high purchasing power.
The report indicates that efforts should be made to recover flights to Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries as strategic sectors.
Another market with "great potential" is the Irish market. Anna Garriga has highlighted that this country has "an increasing income level" and they are looking for "tourism outside the peak of summer, but with destinations where it is sunny." The dean considers that it would be a good option to "keep the hotel floor full and open."
On the other hand, the study also compares the purchasing power of visitors and the spending they make in the area. Although tourists who come to Girona airport have more money, they spend less on accommodation. Specifically, the average income of tourists in autumn and winter is 2,450 euros, 100 euros more than that of the passenger profile that exists in summer.
Expenditure on accommodation is 45.2 euros per person per day, while in summer it is 54.73. That is why the dean is betting on the hotel sector to increase prices. "We must value our companies," Garriga emphasizes, "let them pay more if they have more income."
The traveler profile is also "more mature" since the average age goes from 37 to 51 years. That is why the study indicates the need to differentiate advertising for the winter market compared to the summer. This is a type of public that "asks for sun, nature, landscape and calm." Garriga stressed that "these are things that we already have, we just need to know how to sell them." One possibility is to take images of people walking along the beach without wearing swimsuits to encourage this visitor outside of the high season.
The former director of Girona airport, Lluís Sala, also participated in the debate day organized by the TGT. In his speech, the vice president of the College of Aeronautical Engineers of Catalonia highlighted the need to attract new airlines to the Girona terminal. Sala considers that the infrastructure "is attractive" but conditions the increase in activity on factors such as the future of El Prat, the prices that Aena charges companies or the bonuses it receives from the territory's institutions.
In this sense, Sala regrets that there is no "strategic positioning" of the Barcelona airport and that this negatively affects the Girona and Reus terminals. On the other hand, the former director recalled that airlines prefer to fly from Barcelona due to the attractiveness of the Catalan capital and the economic difference between flying to Girona or Barcelona is not excessively different.
Regarding intermodality, Lluís Sala has asked not to bet the entire future of the airport on the high-speed connection. The vice president of the college of engineers remembers that the train "is not the only connection route" and that is why he asks to improve the offer of other transport routes, such as buses. On the other hand, Sala recalls that the connection with the AVE "is important, but not enough" for the airport to "work." That is why he is committed to making it "attractive to companies" because without this element "there will be neither flights nor passengers."
One of the attractions could be the bonuses that Girona institutions give to airlines to operate from Girona. Lluís Sala recalled that Girona was a "pioneer" in this aid that the territory promoted with Ryanair and that it encouraged the Irish company to open the first base in the entire State in the demarcation. Now, the former director believes that the territory "has been left behind" and other territories have opted more firmly for airport activity.
The closing of the day of debate was for the Government delegate in Girona, Laia Cañigueral, who highlighted the importance that the district has had when it comes to obtaining Next Generation funds in the tourism field. Specifically, aid worth more than 53 million euros has been approved in three different calls. This represents 25% of all the money that Catalonia has obtained in these funds.
Cañigueral added that in the first call for funds, Girona captured "half of the money" that was given in Catalonia. For the delegate, this figure indicates that the territory "has been working hand in hand for some time" when combating challenges such as climate change and tourism sustainability.
The Government spokesperson in Girona has pointed out that one of the challenges to be addressed from the territory is the lack of qualified professionals. That is why she has highlighted that it will be necessary to work together between administrations and companies to "awaken vocations." Cañigueral recalled that to attract visitors with high purchasing power, "highly qualified workers" are needed in the tourism sector.
To achieve this, the delegate is committed to promoting professional training in this area with marketing campaigns, but she has also placed homework on companies. Laia Cañigueral remembers that to attract workers it is necessary to offer "work all year round" and decent working conditions.