Madrid’s commitment to sport is seen as a key element of the city’s new and vibrant profile, celebrated this week as it hosts the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR 2008). The strength of the existing tourism infrastructure also demonstrates a leading advantage for Madrid’s 2016 Olympic bid.
Leading the bid team, Mercedes Coghen believes that if successful, hosting the Games could also help Spain become the world’s most popular holiday destination with Madrid as a “must visit” city. She said, “Because tourism is at the heart of Spain’s economy, a strong infrastructure already exists. Hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games would provide a perfect platform on which to build Madrid’s international profile as one of the world’s top holiday destinations”.
“Madrid is at the heart of Spanish speaking culture in the same way that London is the traditional home of the English speaking world and Beijing the centre of the Chinese language. It is a natural progression that Madrid should follow Beijing and London so that the three most widely spoken languages of the world are represented in three successive Olympics.”
The number of international tourists who arrived in Spain last year reached 59.2 million, a 1.7% increase over the previous year. The income generated by these tourists makes up 12% of Spain’s gross domestic product.
The popularity of Madrid as a travel destination has already grown considerably in recent years with over 4.4 million international tourists visiting the capital in 2007, an increase of 11.9% on the previous year. However, it is not just international tourists gravitating towards the city. Spain demonstrated pride in its capital with national tourists boosting the total figure to 6.7 million tourists in the last year.
The Tourism Trade Fair, opened by King Juan Carlos I of Spain (see attachment - pictured here with Mercedes Coghen, CEO of the Madrid 16 team), provides a great opportunity to showcase Madrid’s new profile in a modern and cutting-edge stand offering five perspectives of the city - as a cultural and artistic centre with vast leisure offering, but also a city for business, language tourism and, most importantly, commitment to sport.
The candidacy for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be promoted at the Tourism Trade Fair using a reproduction of ‘The Magic Box’, the critically acclaimed Olympic Tennis Centre by Dominique Perrault and located in the southern part of the city, in Parque del Manzanares. The innovative and contemporary design of this structure represents the new look of Madrid and will attract a new wave of visitors to the city.
The Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodr’guez Zapatero, today also expressed his total commitment to the Madrid 2016 Olympics bid and pledged the investment and Government support needed to realise the city’s dream.