People visiting Spain have a high opinion of the price-quality ratio of Spanish hotels. Spanish tourists, on the contrary, complain about the quality of hotels, cleanliness and hospitality in countries such as Italy, Greece and France. This is one of the conclusions of a study carried out by the University of Cádiz (UCA) on tourism in southern Mediterranean countries.
“The five aspects most-highly rated by tourists travelling in the countries of the European Mediterranean are the leisure-spectacle activities, organised routes-excursions, cultural activities, the weather and the varied cuisine. However, the worst-ranked aspects were the quality of the accommodation, the cleanliness of the place visited, and the lack of hospitality and friendliness of the people”, Mercedes Jiménez García, a researcher at the UCA and lead author of the study, tells SINC.
The research, which has been published in the journal Estudios turísticos, was based on interviews carried out with Spanish tourists aged between 15 and 64 who had visited at least two of the four Mediterranean countries analysed in the study — France, Spain, Italy and Greece, between 2002 and 2006. A representative sample of 317 individuals was selected from all the responses. Data from the Spanish Tourist Movements (FAMILITUR) survey, carried out by the Institute for Tourism Studies (2006), was also used.
“Many tourists mention the poor standards of French and Italian hotels and restaurants in comparison with Spanish ones. However, 90% of the respondents who mentioned Spanish hotels say they were very varied, with a wide range on offer and an excellent price-quality ratio”, explains Jiménez García.
In terms of cleanliness, most comments are about the low levels of cleanliness in Italy and Greece, not only in terms of the streets, but also the poor upkeep and dirtiness of the monuments.
The aspect ranked lowest by the survey respondents was the friendliness and hospitality of the local population towards visitors. “Most tourists did not give this issue a positive rating, above all when talking about the people in Italy and France”, the expert explains.
Slowing down tourist loss
Historically, Europe has been the world’s top tourist destination, according to the two main parameters used by the World Tourism Organisation (OMT) — international tourist arrivals and income (tourism ratio).
Approximately 70% of Europe’s international tourist arrivals are focused on 10 countries, and the southern Mediterranean region receives a high level of arrivals and income. “Four countries alone (Spain, France, Italy and Greece) represented more than 40% of total international tourist arrivals to the continent in 2006, as well as 40% of its international tourism income, according to 2007 data from the WTO”, the study explains.
However, these countries have experienced a decline in their share of the tourism market in comparison with other emerging destinations and new competitors such as China, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Poland and Croatia.
“The WTO’s projections for 2020 do not foresee any change in this trend, although they do note that Spain will continue to hold its position as the predominant tourism region, with an estimated market share of 45.9% in 2020 with respect to the world total”, the study states.
“The countries of the European Mediterranean need to act quickly in order to maintain their competitiveness at world level. They need to adapt what they offer tourists to be in line with demand”, explains Jiménez García.
Reasons for going back
Around 20% of Spanish tourists say they do not want to visit a place again after having visited it once. However, only 0.9% say they would not return to a European Mediterranean country because it did not live up to their expectations.
Lastly, 1.3% give other reasons for not wanting to return to a country, including the high prices in Italy and the fact that they feel certain places in the south of the country are not interesting.
Mercedes Jiménez García. “Una estrategia turística para el Mediterráneo europeo: primeros pasos basados en un trabajo de campo”, Estudios turísticos 185: 33-53, 2010.