Breaking Travel News interview: Almudena Maíllo, delegate councillor for tourism, Madrid
Spanish capital Madrid has been honoured with a number of top titles at the World Travel Awards Grand Final 2021 and the World MICE Awards.
Here Breaking Travel News speaks to Almudena Maíllo, delegate councillor for tourism in the city, to find out how it feels to have been recognised by voters from around the world.
Breaking Travel News: Madrid has successfully defended the title of World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination at the World Travel Awards. How does it feel to have won?
Almudena Maíllo: It’s an honour for the city to win such an important international award and we are grateful for all the votes we received.
We were up against some truly exemplary destinations, and it gives us great pleasure to be able to end 2021 by celebrating our title of World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination, and for the third year in a row.
We see this World Travel Award as recognition of all of the efforts made by Madrid’s tourism industry, and perhaps this sort of support is even more necessary in these difficult times.
It’s really them, the professionals who make up this industry, who make Madrid a great destination, and they’re the ones that the award is aimed at.
They have kept the MICE sector’s activity going over the past year and a half, setting an example of perseverance, responsibility and passion for our work.
That’s why this award for Madrid is also an award for every single person who makes up its MICE tourism industry as a whole.
BTN: At the same time, the World MICE Awards has honoured the city with the trophy for Europe’s Best MICE Destination. What do you think made the city stand out in the eyes of voters?
AM: Madrid stands out first and foremost for its people; they’re what really gets visitors “hooked”.
I’m talking about the passion and way of life of Madrid’s residents, and the creativity and professionalism - not to mention the responsibility - of everyone involved in MICE tourism in the city.
They are, without a doubt, what makes Madrid such an attractive destination.
We have other competitive advantages like infrastructure, our geographic location and climate, our history, the enormous range of our services and venues and our vibrant cultural programme.
But the feeling of being at home, which is something our visitors often mention to us, is down to the character of our fellow citizens.
For those who haven’t had a chance to meet us yet, I invite you to visit and see for yourselves.
Madrid is a welcoming city where you’ll feel safe and, as regards the organisation of conferences and conventions, have no doubt that in Madrid there’s a solution to make any meeting or event a success, with the highest possible standards of safety and excellence.
BTN: How useful will the duo of titles be for the city when it comes to promoting the tourism sector as we head into 2022?
AM: Having the World Travel Awards associated with our activity is a prestigious endorsement of quality which, at the international level, helps keep Madrid at the top of the world rankings, not just with respect to MICE tourism but also, by extension, as a tourist destination.
Finally, I’d like to say that receiving these two awards is an inducement to keep growing and improving each year, which we are committed to doing from here on out with new strategies such as our support for enabling events to have a positive impact through legacy and sustainability, or developing new tools like App Plus to make it easier for organisers to bring about this positive impact in Madrid.
BTN: How would you describe the mood in Spanish tourism currently – is the recovery from Covid-19 now well underway?
AM: Madrid can say with conviction that its MICE activity has remained constant over time, although it has been adapted at all times in line with the evolution of the pandemic.
At present, and always attuned to the pandemic and the regulations being implemented, in Madrid we are trying to move towards normality cautiously, with every possible health guarantee we can provide.
We continue to follow all health safety protocols and general guidelines, but we are heading towards what is expected to be a full recovery by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023, according to current data.
In this regard, the data from a survey conducted on the over 200 companies associated with us provides a glimpse of a future recovery that’s relatively close on the horizon, with two particularly important indicators: an increase in the size of the events our companies are providing quotes for and a clear preference for in-person events.
Find out more about visiting Madrid on the official tourism website.
Images: Madrid Tourism and Alvaro Lopez