Madrid, Jan 11 (EFE).- A total of 107 nations and almost 7,000 companies will be represented this year at the 42nd edition of the International Tourism Fair (Fitur) in Madrid, with the Dominican Republic as a special partner.
Fitur, one of the world’s main tourism fairs, plans for which were presented on Tuesday in the Spanish capital, will kick off on Jan. 19 and run through the 23rd.
Right in the middle of a massive new Covid-19 wave in Spain, the fair will feature partly virtual and partly in-person events and is intended to get the message out that tourism must recover its leadership.
Of the 107 countries attending the fair, 70 will have official government representation and the rest will be represented by companies or tourist destinations located there. At Fitur 2020, just prior to the start of the pandemic, 165 countries participated.
The Dominican Republic’s tourism minister, David Collado, who was present for the announcement of the fair, emphasized that the president of his country, Luis Abinader, will attend this year’s edition of Fitur, where the Caribbean country will try to display to the world that its own sector model is proof that safe tourism is possible.
“We have worked for responsible recovery” of the country’s tourism industry, he said.
During the fourth quarter of 2021, the Dominican Republic registered the best tourist arrival figures in its history, Collado said.
Tourism represents about 15 percent of the Dominican Republic’s GDP, generating 899,000 direct and indirect jobs. About 60 percent of the country’s hotel rooms – some 70,000 – have been constructed with Spanish capital.
With a total of 600 exhibitors and 6,933 participating firms, Fitur is intending to create confidence in the market, incentivize the travel sector and highlight business tourism, organizers said at the announcement ceremony.
In addition, the fair has the twin aims of helping the tourism sector to recover its leadership as a lever for development and showing how the industry can ensure sector safety given the new international situation resulting from the Covid pandemic.
Organizers emphasized the participation figures this year, which are at levels very close to those achieved before the pandemic, with eight pavilions being occupied this year (last year it was only three), an exposition area of 56,700 square meters (some 610,000 square feet) and representation from all of Spain’s geographical regions.
As in past years, the first three days of the fair will be attended only by industry professionals, some 60,000 of whom are expected, while this coming weekend Fitur will be opened up to the general public, 30,000 of whom are expected to attend, considerably above the attendance for 2021 but down from the figure in 2020.
At the announcement of the fair – the only one in the world that has not missed a single year due to the pandemic – the president of the executive committee of IFEMA, Jose Vicente de los Mozos, emphasized the work of his organization, showing that “it is possible to keep economic activity alive without affecting safety.”
IFEMA is a consortium formed by Madrid Regional Government, Madrid City Council, Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Montemadrid Foundation that organizes and manages fairs and conventions.
Fitur attendees, both industry professionals and members of the public, will have to present a Covid vaccination certificate in the case of people coming from within the European Union, or a QR Spain Travel Health code, which allows entry into Spain for people from non-EU nations, or evidence of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 24 hours of arrival at the fair. All attendees will be required to wear FPP2 facemasks.
In-person participation will be complemented with an online platform – Fitur LIVEConnect – which has been operational since Dec. 20 and will remain so until Feb. 4.
One novelty at this year’s fair will be Fitur Cruises, which will present itself to the public after that area of the tourism sector was hit hard by the pandemic.
For the first time, the Helixa platform will also be activated, a technological-artistic forum that will allow visitors to create their own avatars in real time, digital personalized “twins” who will be able to interact on digital platforms and within the metaverse.
Just as on earlier occasions, Fiturtechy will be a space for disseminating knowledge and innovation, with four forums on business, destinations, sustainability and future trends.
Fitur Know How & Export, organized by Segittur with the collaboration of ICEX; Mice (for business tourism); Screen (to show the connection between tourism and film); LBGT+; Talent; Woman, Lingua and Travel Technology are other forums that will be available during this year’s fair.