Travel agents from Edinburgh were invited to attend an event hosted by the Region of Valencia Tourism Board on 13 October. Held at The Duck and Waffle, in the Scottish capital’s St James Quarter shopping centre, it provided an opportunity for agents to learn about the diverse tourism offering in the Region of Valencia.
Spanning an area of more than 8,900 square miles – making it larger than Wales – the Region of Valencia has more than 300 miles of coastline and attracts over 30 million visitors a year. Approximately 2.5 million of those come from the United Kingdom.
With around 300 sunny days a year and average temperatures of 20°C, the region is a year-round tourism destination. In addition to Valencia, Alicante, Benidorm and Castelló number among the cities in a region where the tourism industry provides 15% of employment.
Reasons to visit the Region of Valencia
Attendees at the event heard Nuria Montes, Minister of Tourism, Innovation, Industry, and Commerce for the Region of Valencia, explain that there is much for travellers in addition to the sunshine, sandy beaches and secluded coves.
Key attractions include sporting events, music festivals and 22 natural parks where visitors can participate in outdoor activities. Ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer insights into the Region of Valencia’s cultural heritage.
Scottish holidaymakers can fly to airports in the Region of Valencia from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Modern and competitively priced accommodation is available.
“Our region offers a lot of opportunities to have a good time during your winter,” said the minister.
“I want to mention the City of Arts and Sciences, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, in Valencia – it is a fantastic place,” she added, pointing out a highlight in the regional capital. The district houses the vast Oceanagràfic València aquarium.
Travel agents’ perspectives
“I’ve not been in the area for quite some time. I’ve been to Benidorm, Altea and Alicante but I’ve never been to Valencia itself, so I’m hoping to hear a wee bit more,” said Steven McLean of Surgeon’s Quarter Travel at the beginning of an event he attended with the aim of getting updates about the region.
“I’m really looking forward to this event tonight to learn more about the Region of Valencia, what it has to offer and what extras that we can add for our clients. For us, based in Edinburgh, it’s a short, two-hour flight, so our clients love to be able to jump on a plane and get the sunshine – it’s got a great range of different beaches. There’s something for families, something for couples, as well as something for stag and hen parties – which are quite common. It’s a very popular area,” commented Lindsey Middleton, who works from home, as Middleton’s Travel, under the Intele Travel umbrella.
“I just wanted to discover more about the region. I’ve been before but I feel like there’s lots of things that I don’t know and lots of new things that can try and promote to clients,” commented Morgan Watts, also of Intele Travel. “I think there’s a lot more to do than you think…it’s very diverse. There’s a lot of water sports, for example. We know Benidorm for partying but I think there’s a lot more to the area and it was interesting to discover some of that.”
“I’m really interested because I visited Valencia for the first time last year for three nights. I realised that we’d hardly seen any of it and there was so much more in the area to discover, so I’m really interested to learn more about the region. Last year we flew via Gatwick, so now that they have direct flights from Edinburgh, it’s far more attractive to the Scottish market,” said Kerry Watt of Club Voyages.
Region of Valencia insider tips
“We have mountains reaching up almost 2,000 meters high…you can cycle, you can walk, you can hike and you can climb,” said Juan Muñoz, Head of the Promotion Department of the Region of Valencia Tourism Board, pointing out reasons to consider staying inland rather than on the coast.
“Elche is a World Heritage Site and has the largest oasis in Europe, with 300,000 palm trees,” he added, highlighting another of the region’s attractions.
The culinary heritage of the region is also significant, attracting foodies to try original Valencian paella – the most famous of more than 300 rice-based dishes associated with the Region of Valencia. Gazpacho made with game meat is one of the regional specialities served inland. Seafood, fresh seasonal produce and desserts are also reasons for gastronomes to visit a region whose chefs hold more than 20 Michelin stars.
People who appreciate good wine can sample vintages in their appellations of origin, including Utiel-Requena.
“We have to be sustainable. I would take the public transportation, which is quite good, especially in cities and around cities,” said Juan of getting about within a region that has good high-speed train connections with both Madrid and Barcelona.
“I think many towns are very efficient in the use and re-use of water,” he added, emphasising a notable aspect of sustainability. Renewable energy is also on the rise in the region.
For travellers who enjoy urban tourism and exploring cultural sites, the Region of Valencia has lots to offer according to Juan: “In Valencia, they are opening a new art centre, the Hortensia Herrero, soon and Valencia has been awarded next year’s European Green Capital. In Alicante, people can enjoy cultural visits and discover museums, including the MARQ – the museum of archaeology.”
Prize draw winner
Attendees were invited to participate in a prize draw to win a short break in the Region of Valencia. The business card of Andy Gilhooly, who operates a Travel Counsellors franchise, was drawn by the Minister of Tourism, Innovation, Industry, and Commerce.
“Loads of my clients love Valencia, Benidorm and the whole region. We have great connections in Scotland, so I sell it. I’ve got about 20 clients in the region. It’s very popular and it’s an easy sell for me. It’s a stunning location, a short flight, and has beautiful weather and beautiful people. I see all these events as a big partnership…we all want the region to succeed,” said the prize winner.
“Valencia makes a cracking short break. It’s not a long flight out of the UK and it’s not expensive. The food, the people and the weather mean people are going to love it and might want to go back for a longer break,” said Andy when asked for tips on what to sell about the Region of Valencia.
None of the event’s attendees went home empty-handed. All of the agents were presented with a goody bag containing information about the Region of Valencia and its attractions along with gifts including a frisbee, a fan and a bottle of red wine from the Vicente Gandia winery.
Representatives from the Region of Valencia will be returning to the United Kingdom to attend the 2023 World Travel Market, in London, from 6-8 November.