Most of us are aware of how big Medical Tourism is in Spain – the practice of a patient travelling to another country for medical care rather than use the services available in their native land – and now Spain is making headlines for becoming a leader in another kind of tourism: food tourism.
• Food tourism in Spain is being tipped to become an integral part of attracting visitors to the country after it was recently revealed by Turespaña, the Spanish Tourist Board, that gastro-tourism attracted an estimated 5.6 million visitors to the country last year.
• That was an increase of more than 4 per cent compared to 2011, while the estimated spend by tourists on food and wine in 2012 was placed at €6.4 million – a 10 per cent rise on the previous year. With Spanish restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, this month in London being crowned the world’s best restaurant for the second time, it only helps reinforce Spain’s reputation as a major gastronomy hotspot. The restaurant, run by Josep Roca and his two brothers, was named as the winner in Britain’s Restaurant magazine and ended a three-year reign at the top for Danish eatery Noma. Foodies will be pleased to know that El Celler de Can Roca looks set to continue winning first place for many years to come!
• Meanwhile, as Spain’s tourism industry continues to be a crucial part of the country’s overall economy, it’s hoped food tourism will be the latest weapon in Spain’s arsenal able to attract substantial numbers of visitors to its shores.
• “The prize means we can strengthen our brand, …and in terms of promoting our country it is extremely important” said Josep Roca speaking on radio. He added: “We have to take advantage of this to show off our country, philosophy, way of being, living, eating and in some way use it to our advantage in terms of tourism.”
• On top of this, the Institute of Tourism Studies (IET) released information taken from a survey they ran which revealed that tourists had given the wine-making region of La Rioja top marks for its gastronomy.
• It’s undoubtedly another welcome boost to the Spanish tourism industry, one the largest tourism industries in the world, which last year helped Spain record its third most successful year for tourism to date with nearly 60 million foreign tourists travelling to the country.
• El Celler de Can Roca opened in 1986 and is renowned for serving playful dishes that blend innovative cooking techniques with traditional ingredients.
• It was not the only Spanish eatery to make Restaurant’s list of the world’s 50 best restaurants with Mugaritz, San Sebastián, ranking 4th; Arzak, also San Sebastián, ranking 8th; Quique Dacosta, Dénia, ranking 26th; and Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, ranking 44th.
Article by David Johns