When people from outside Spain are asked if they know Galicia, the answer is invariably negative. Why is it, that this part of Spain is so popular with Spanish tourists, yet remains relatively unknown for foreigners who visit the peninsula. The easy answer could be the weather. The Costas of the Mediterranean , and the Andalusian coast have always been popular with sun-seeking tourists from all over Europe. The sun is guaranteed, but the beaches can be very overcrowded, and not very clean. Many are private, and also full of expensive sunbeds and parasols. At least you know what you are going to get, and the local councils plough a lot of money into attracting tourists. This last point could be the reason that the region remains unknown outside of Spain.
Galicia vs Northern Spain
Many Spaniards from the centre of Spain, who spend most of the year far from the coast in arid lands, love Galicia. They love it’s greenery, it’s unspoiled beaches, it´s locally produced food, and above all it’s tranquility. And also the love it’s weather. Other parts of northern Spain , such as Asturias and Cantabria can compete with Galicia on some fronts. However, their weather is unreliable, and this reduces their appeal for tourists who like the sun. Galicia has much more guaranteed days of sun a year, and thus the domestic tourists come flocking.
Opening up Galicia
As Galicia has always felt that it has enough tourists fro it’s own country, over the years it has been a little slow to advertise itself abroad. Many ex-gallegos whose families left Galicia during Franco’s rule, also flood back in the summer months. However, with some old style economy such as agriculture and fishing declining, tourism is stepping in to fill the gap. Oddly enough, the huge upgrade to the airport in Porto has helped Galicia. It’s southern entry point in Tui is just an hour’s drive from the airport. Porto serves almost 75 different destinations, and the budget airlines have really upped their flight volumes. Galicia has been quick to take advantage of this, and the regional government have supported the tourist industry.
TurGalicia was launched in 2010 to coincide with the Xacobeo Galicia celebrations, and has been a huge success. Foreign visitor numbers have swelled , many due to the Camino de Santiago, but also as the TurGalicia has visited many overseas holiday fairs.
Many of the tourists come to experience that balance of sun-seeking, and the culture of the region. And obviously the gastronomy . And now, a growing part of this tourism is outdoor sports. Surfing has grown in popularity, as has trail running and hiking. Galicia’s mountains providing the perfect environment for these pastimes. And now cycling holidays ares slowly beginning to grow in their popularity, as the abundance of mountains, coast and safe riding conditions appeal to cyclists. Cycling Galicia is in a perfect spot to attract these new tourists, and open up this paradise even more.