The Spanish National Tourist Office (SNTO) aims to change the holiday habits of UK visitors to Spain, writes JILL SAYLES.

Speaking at this week's Elite Travel Conference for Independents in Seville, Enrique Ruiz de Lera of SNTO, in a presentation called 'Strategy for the UK market', said: “What we are trying to do is change the mentality of the UK traveller”.

SNTO brand reposition analysis conducted in 2009 showed that while the brand is well established, it is gradually losing its strength and is not as innovative as others. Sun and Beach tourism takes over the holiday image of the country with little differentiation between coastal destinations. Meanwhile, research shows that 60% of UK tourists to the Canary Islands couldn’t name the island they were on.

Ruiz de Lera said there is a need to reposition Spain for a younger generation, and as a premium, unique, and aspirational destination with the aim of increasing profit from the UK tourism market by 15%.

He said: “The UK market currently generates 1% of Spain´s GDP, so for us it's absolutely key for survival.”

The tourism board´s marketing plan, spanning 2012–2016, has 80 products in five categories – Relax , Discover, Enjoy, Hear and Meet – with ten products for the UK including gastronomy tours.

Ruiz de Lera said: “I don´t see enough gastronomic tours being sold in the UK and I think Spain is very unrepresented here.”

He also urged delegates to sell more city break destinations rather than just Barcelona and Madrid, as many are well connected to airports such as Bilbao and Seville. He also highlighted that agents had the opportunity to tap into the flight and drive market in Spain which he said very few people are selling. He said: "We urge agents and operators to create and sell differentiated product and provide experiences as the biggest challenge is to educate and counsel the consumer.”

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