The Gibraltar Tourist Board is gearing up for a busy 2016 as it prepares to launch experiential tours that will give visitors the chance to learn about the destination’s role in the Neanderthal story.
Excavations at the Gorham’s Cave complex and Mediterranean Steps at the top of the Rock have uncovered a Neanderthal occupation site used that dates from between 125,000 and 30,000 years ago.
As a result, the Gorham’s Cave complex and Mediterranean Steps have been put forward to become a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a decision made by July 2016.
The tourist board has put together the Gibraltar Neanderthal Caves and Environments tours that will be available for agents to become early in the new year. The tours will cover how the Neanderthals lived and the role that Gibraltar played in their survival. There will be also be a visitors’ centre that will feature the discoveries made in the caves.
Gibraltar Tourist Board head of marketing, Tracey Poggio, said the discoveries present a great new opportunity for agents to encourage their clients to discover another side of the destination: “The majority of visitors take part in tours of the Rock but the Neanderthal discoveries in Gorham’s Cave give visitors the opportunity to venture to the east side of Gibraltar.”
Also on the east side of the destination, work is due to start soon on a five-year £1billion east side marina project, which will feature luxury shopping outlets and a five-star hotel, and will be firmly targeted at the high-end part of the market, as well as the yachting fraternity.
The tourist board's chief executive, Nicky Guerrero, said Gibraltar is really starting to raise its game with the five-star accommodation market: “The opening of Sunbourn earlier this year has helped us to launch into the luxury market, and the additional of the new east-side marina will help us really appeal to that market.”
Meanwhile, event and festival tourism is becoming increasingly popular, according to Guerrero. She said: “We have been talking to SuperBreak about offering a package that features the Gibraltar Literary Festival, of which the Princess Royal is patron.”
The tourist board has also launched a new trade brochure and is also offering 50/50 support to agents who are keen to promote their Gibraltar packages in their local media. Poggio said: “We will be pushing ahead with our online training programme for 2016, and will be very keen to reward agents who take part in the training programme. We also have a series of roadshows planned for next year.”