Saturday, 30 January 2010

In Madrid… A mix of culture & tourism

BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
BETWEEN January 20 and 24, Feria de Madrid hosted this year’s International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR 2010).
The event, which had participants from over 170 countries and regions of the world including Nigeria — represented by Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) — provided opportunity for tourist destinations, service and products providers in the industry and related businesses to exhibit their uniqueness and attractions to the world.
Apart from the Business To Business (B2B), a platform for participants to interact and network, a fascinating aspect of the five-day fair was cultural display.
For two days (January 23 and 24), there was a folklore festival, which provided participants avenue to celebrate their culture.
The essence of the Folklore Festival, as defined by IFEMA ((La Institución Ferial de Madrid), is to increase interest in cultural packages. And this was amply demonstrated on those two days.
The exhibition grounds, spanning over 75,000sq metres, were resplendent in colours, and filled with sounds and sights from different continents of the world.
“Art and heritage are undoubtedly among the most important attractions for many tourists when choosing their destinations. In 2010, many countries will be holding tempting events that will seduce thousands of tourists: from anniversaries, such as the birth of Chopin being honoured in Poland, to the creation of passionate exhibitions of the most outstanding works of artists such as that featuring Frida Kahlo in Brussels, Belgium,’’declared IFEMA in one of the pre-fair briefings.
In the European region, Spain, the host country, was amazing as well as Germany, which showcased what was termed an invitation to the cultural capital of Europe.
Other European countries were also outstanding in the presentations of their various natural and cultural heritages while in Hall 4, American and African countries treated everybody present to a full dose of appealing music.
Colombia, Chile, Mexico and a host of others were particularly amazing in their theatrical displays while African countries, Nigeria inclusive, chose to attract the audience with their visual art collections and cultural heritages. It was a blissful session watching the various visitors feast on the art collections on display.

WITH FITUR at 30, Madrid, which is regarded as the political, economic and socio–cultural capital of Spain has shown that it is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to tourism.
With its tourism industry on the high and the Headquarters of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in the city, it was no surprise that Madrid provided what it did.
The increasing interest in the 30 years fair proved right the vision of IFEMA when it first took the step in 1980 to stage a fair that would in years to come be a tourism show and window to the world.
From using a facility that belonged then to the chamber of commerce, IFEMA has over the years acquired and developed its own fairground known as Feria de Madrid, which currently covers about 250, 000sq metres.
The King of Spain, Juan Carlos, and his wife, Queen Sophia, formally opened the fair. The king is one of the patrons of the fair and his involvement with the yearly fair has also stood it in good stead and attracted the right patronage from across the world.

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