Brace yourselves for the curves (I)

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

Madrid, world capital of tourism, has already conquered the next decade. A future that is already here, within reach.  Fitur has closed its doors breaking all records. And it opened its doors announcing the return 45 years later (1981) of the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix to be held from 2026 to 2035.   

  1. Around the world
  2. The strength of the Union
  3. Middle East on fire

It will be a prodigious decade. Better race, better circuit, better city. IFEMA (Institución Ferial de Madrid) will be the beginning and end of the street circuit, with a 5.4 kilometre route; one of the most technically innovative tracks in the world. Twenty-three corners. Hold on.  

Estimated revenue of 450 million and the creation of 8,500 jobs each year.  Culture, gastronomy, bars, hotels, theatres, shopping and museums will be activated. A revolutionary decision by Isabel Díaz Ayuso and José Luis Martínez-Almeida. The professional work of the president of this trade fair organisation, José Vicente de los Mozos, should be highlighted.  

Community and City Council rowing together in the same direction. 120 countries and a television audience of 1,000 million people guarantee a simply brutal impact on Spain's image. Unstoppable.  

And in the middle of the Fair, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced "in situ" an investment of 2,400 million euros to enlarge the Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas Airport. The transformation will include an AVE station that will allow travellers to reach Barcelona, Seville or Valencia in less than three hours. That's as good as it gets. 

Spain's ambition as a tourist destination is to reach 100 million annual visitors before the end of this decade. Last year, we exceeded 83 million. The tourism industry already exceeds 12% of GDP with revenues of more than 16,000 million euros. And all in a digital environment as we have seen in this XLIV edition.

Fitur 2024 GP de Madrid Fórmula 1
Fitur 2024 GP Madrid F1

Around the world

There is a Chinese saying that the success of a journey always depends on the direction of the first step. We took 22,000 to travel the five continents at Fitur 24.  

After the cursed pandemic of this decade, travel has become a vital necessity for the soul and the body. To travel is, above all, to live. To live and to dream. To know is to love. To leave the usual comfort zone is to find new destinations, other challenges, surprises; it is to discover distant horizons with a smile or a tear. We are talking about sharing adventures accompanied by someone who helps and protects us or getting lost on a lonely beach to find ourselves.

IFEMA's nine pavilions are home to more than 130 countries. For five days, Madrid becomes the meeting point for millions of people from all over the world to think that life is still worth living. And now more than ever when the coronavirus has discovered our vulnerability. 

Fitur 2024 Aeropuerto de Madrid Barajas
Fitur 2024 Madrid Barajas Airport

Fortunately, the 2030 agenda allows us to enjoy ecological, sustainable, diverse and green living. Globalisation is an antidote to racism and xenophobia. Fitur is not only a temple of respect, but also a space for coexistence and tolerance; a university of freedom where men and women from all corners of the world come together to make our planet more habitable. Men and women who are freer and more equal. 

We invite you to take an immense stroll through history and the present day, aware that we are now all one world. Let us start with Europe.

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

The strength of the Union

Spain, France, Italy and Greece are the four pillars of European tourism. If stones could speak, they would cry out that Greeks and Romans have conditioned all our lives for the last three millennia.   

Democracy is philosophy and reason. Roman law is still 25 centuries later the rule of coexistence that protects the laws and our human relations. The Parthenon in Athens or the Colosseum in Rome are now part of the common heritage that extends to Mérida (theatre), Segovia (aqueduct) aqueduct, and Tarragona (Arco de Bará). Paris is more than the Eiffel Tower. But the French capital cannot be visualised without the prefabricated steel structures on the Champ de Mars. 

The pavilions of Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine share the soul of the Danube, castles and music. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not allowed Kiev and its glorious people to invite us to discover their land, now stained with blood. Britain, Benelux, the Baltic countries and the Nordic countries are almost always a fatal attraction. But, and this is where we wanted to go, they all have a tough competitor: Portugal.  

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

Our neighbour to the east has once again tried to convince us that its charms do not reside in Lisbon, Porto and Faro. The Azores Archipelago, in the heart of the Atlantic, is a powerful attraction. Its two pavilions and parallel stands occupy the best spaces on the European stage.  

The warmth of its people, the sea, the gastronomy and its low prices are a great advertising lure. Portugal is always close at hand. 

Several screens of more than 16 square metres give off digital and changing images to show, in English, human, geographical, hydrological and environmental content. Tourism has definitely moved from analogue to digital. We capture the country through all our senses. Competition is always desirable. 

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

Middle East on fire

Egypt is the most popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean. The Nile is the backbone of a civilisation with almost five millennia of indecipherable history. We still don't know how the pyramids were built.  

These megalomaniac infrastructures are only the tip of the iceberg of an indispensable community, perhaps connected with extraterrestrials. For 4,500 years, the pharaohs have represented the civilisation that worshipped the sun and the stars, invented modern architecture, measured sidereal space, deciphered the constellations, humanised the divine, believed in day and night.  

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

The desert sands have buried cities, temples and palaces that once represented the power of the gods on earth.  The great Egyptian Museum in front of the Pyramid of Giza is the symbol of historical and cultural tourism.  

Unfortunately, terrorism is history's greatest enemy. The criminal attack by Hamas (Islamist Resistance Movement) on October 7, 2023 has brought the lives of half the world to a standstill. Nothing will ever be the same in those dune-swamped gardens with their little oases.  

Palestine presented a modest stand selling its best merchandise: the Holy Land. Today Bethlehem, Lake Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee or the Garden of Gethsemane are empty places. In spite of everything, Palestine was at Fitur 24. 

Fitur 2024 (7)
Fitur 2024

Israel has accused that it is at war. Its stand is no longer the star where visitors used to queue up to enjoy its innovations. Jerusalem today is a city empty of travellers at the Wailing Wall. 

Survival and defence are the urgent and primary concern. With the Middle East in flames, the neighbouring countries of Syria and Lebanon have too much to do with controlling internal radical groups. Jordan, with an unsustainable migration crisis, once again offers its Petra treasures as a place of peace where time has stood still. 

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

Only the Gulf states, the owners of petrodollars and natural gas, proclaim that anything is possible in their domains. The might of the Emirates with Qatar leading the skyscrapers offer a skyline that contrasts with the humanitarian tragedies in Gaza and Yemen. The Red Sea is burning too. Iran continues to believe that the Persian empire is immortal. 

We include Turkey, by proximity, in this section. The Bosphorus separates Europe from Asia; the Strait of Istanbul has become the new "El Dorado" of mass tourism. The Ottoman Empire has lost 12.1 of its 13 million square kilometres but its attraction is infinite. It is astonishing to see still standing the canal that supplied water to Hagia Sophia Cathedral from 50 kilometres away more than 1,400 years ago. 

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

Its Roman past was splendid. Istanbul is as impressive as St Petersburg. Ancient Constantinople is home to 20 million hospitable people with doctorates in the art of retail bargaining and haggling. Its bazaars are unique.  

Ankara was home to Alexander the Great, who rebuilt it. Smyrna is one of the pearls of the Aegean along with Ephesus, where St Paul preached Christianity. "Love never passes away', he taught us. 

Turkey is the emerging country of mass tourism with its balloon rides in the skies above Cappadocia. Its aspiration is to become the second world power after the United States of America within a decade.

Fitur 2024
Fitur 2024

China and Japan lead the way in Asian tourism.  India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the rest of the Far East improved their offerings to prospective customers and travel agents on this occasion. The colour of their landscapes, their dishes and their costumes identify each village.  

Fitur is an open market in all directions. One of the novelties are the explanations of the experts trying to convince professionals and future visitors. 


Antonio REGALADO directs BAHÍA DE ÍTACA in: