Murcia has always attracted a broad spectrum of tourists, drawn to the region’s picturesque landscapes, diverse leisure options and modern infrastructure. Unfortunately, most people have been unable to enjoy its attractions in recent months, just as other popular European tourist resorts have also suffered the effects of coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.
As summer beckons, however, there is a sense of renewed optimism in the air, as regional authorities prepare for a gradual return of tourists. Or a “change of airs”, as they describe it, launching a campaign to encourage people to plan their next getaways and holidays with a “Cambio de Aires” (“Change of Scene”).
From golf, thermal springs, mountain nature parks, beaches and marine reserves to such alluring cultural attractions as the Murcia cathedral, Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta sanctuary, Cartagena’s Roman theatre, La Fortaleza del Sol fortress in Lorca and Cruz de Caravaca basilica church… as well as the region’s renowned cuisine as the 2021 Spanish Capital of Gastronomy.
The message has initially been aimed at regional visitors, asking them to support local or “close proximity” tourist businesses (many of which are offering 50 per cent discounts), but it also covers Spaniards and foreign residents from other parts of the country who are preparing for the “State of Alarm” to (presumably) be lifted from 9 May and for regional borders to be re-opened. And ultimately it will be extended to international visitors, as Britain and EU countries boost their vaccination programs and fine-tune the launch of the “Digital Green Certificate” to consolidate safe international travel from June.
Open for Business
The main campaign is focused on Murcia’s outdoor and sustainable-tourism attractions, but another key objective is to promote the benefits of M.I.C.E. tourism (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) in the region.
The tourism ministry and Murcia and Cartagena congress offices took part in the Iberian M.I.C.E. industry forum in Madrid earlier this year, promoting the region’s “Ready to meet you” brand, which has been created to distinguish Murcia’s corporate appeal from its traditional tourism attractions.
In 2019, the region hosted a total of 1,313 events, in Murcia, Cartagena and Águilas, comprising meetings, congresses, conventions, seminars and symposiums. According to the director of Murcia’s Regional Tourism Institute, Juan Francisco Martínez, the region’s main attractions for corporate events and visitors include the available of spacious event and congress venues, excellent transport communications (including award-winning Corvera Airport Murcia), and a privileged climate (average annual temperature 19ºC and 300 days of sunshine a year) that ensures the destination is ideal for all kinds of events, many of which are open-air.
In addition, the region offers top-quality accommodation options, and maximum security guarantees that incorporate all COVID-19 protocols and safety measures, as well as free insurance designed to cover health, transport and accommodation costs.
EuroVelo Cycling Route
The ministry of tourism has also just announced that work has started on sign-posting the EuroVelo 8 cycling route through Murcia. Comprising 15 sections, including three in Spain, this European network was set up in 1987 with the goal of connecting safe routes throughout the continent for cyclists wanting to enjoy long-distance trips, as well as local enthusiasts.
The Murcia section extends over 217 kilometres, entering the region at Orihuela and continuing through the municipalities of Águilas, Lorca, Mazarrón, Cartagena, La Unión, Los Alcázares, San Javier, San Pedro del Pinatar and Murcia. The whole sign-posting project is due to be completed within a month.