Tag Archives: Tourism

Guided tours of Ronda

Getting to Ronda using tour guide companies

Many people arrive in Ronda by train or bus but there is another option. You can also use one of the many tour guide companies across Spain but because finding the right one can sometimes be difficult we have found the best place to find trips to Ronda is at Viator.com. In fact, with this amazing online booking tool you can reserve your entries to hundreds of museums, events and tours across Spain (and the world).  For example, If you are on a tour of Andalucia then you can use this tool to book your entry to the Alhambra in Granada a Guided tour of Seville or a Flamenco show in Madrid

Click here to find out more about the places you can visit whilst here in Spain.

header1

We have received many emails from people asking for a printed version of Ronda Today so we have created a 21 page A4 essential guide to Ronda and the Sierras from some of the articles on this website. At just 3 Euros (Paypal) It is well worth the investment if you are planning to visit the “City of Dreams” for a week, a couple of days or just a day. The guide contains Ronda Todays’ most important tourist information articles and includes a map of Ronda, the most popular monuments and nearby places to visit including information on the Sierra de Grazalema and the white villages (Pueblos Blancos).  Just click the link below, pay via Paypal and you will receive an email with a link to download the guide to your computer. It’s a PDF document so you can store it on your machine and print it straight away.

Click here to buy and download your essential printable guide to Ronda

Thank you for supporting Ronda Todays continued growth by purchasing this essential tourist guide to Ronda!

20100914

Ronda’s Main Attractions to Remain Open at Night

For the rest of September and all of October 2010, but possibly to be extended through the winter months, some of Ronda’s main attractions such as the Arab Baths, the Giant’s House, and the Mondragon Palace will remain open from 9pm until midnight to encourage visitors to the city to stay for a night or an extra night knowing that they can relax and not rush to see everything.

Entitled “Noches de embrujo nazarí en Ronda”, which can be loosely translated as An Evening of Moorish Enchantment, the focus will be on promoting the Nazari period when Andalusian architecture and art had reached it’s true golden age in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Arab Baths are considered Spain’s most complete Nazari public bath house, whilst the garden of the Mondragon Palace, and the patio of the Casa del Gigante (Giant’s House) are amongst the best examples of courtyard design known in Andalucia.

The event is being coordinated with the support of several local hotels and restaurants whose guests will be offered free entry to the monuments. Participants include the Parador Hotel, Montelirio, Maestranza, Don Miguel, Acinipo and EnfrenteArte, and the well known restaurants del Escudero and Jerez.

Speaking to Ronda Today, the director of the Parador Hotel Gonzalo Fernandez described this initiative as hugely important since overnight stays in Ronda have been falling, primarily due to visitors perception that Ronda is closed for business after 8pm. Significantly, the six hotels and two restaurants will foot the bill for the extra staff required to keep the three most important municipal attractions open during these extra three hours.

In addition to late night openings, the councillor for Tourism Francisco Cañestro is also planning to announce more art exhibitions on a world class level for Ronda. At present the Peinado Museum is hosting a collection of Picasso sketches owned by the Unicaja bank. November also see the inaugural year of the new International Political Film Festival which is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the city during a traditionally quiet season.

Francisco Cañestro, Councillor for Tourism

Interview with Francisco Cañestro, Councillor for Tourism

The tourism industry is widely acknowledged to be the most important in Ronda, with the city receiving millions of visitors per year who come to admire Ronda’s many important cultural and historic monuments. Ronda Today talked to Francisco Cañestro, Councillor for Tourism about his goals over the coming year.

A recent report commissioned by the town hall was quite critical of accessibility in Ronda, not only for people with disabilities, but also for the aged and holiday makers with an injury. The majority of Ronda’s monuments, hotels, restaurants and public streets will need to be renovated to bring them up to EU standards for accessibility.

Cañestro recently took over as councillor and says he was overwhelmed with how large the task is, though he is pressing ahead, and has recently officiated at the re-opening of the Arab Baths after extensive modifications.

A budget of 50 million Euros has been set aside over the next 12 months for accessibility, which includes ramps and footpaths at Acinipo, rebuilding public streets and footpaths in the old city, creating wheelchair access ramps on footpaths, upgrading certain buildings to allow disabled access, including removable ramps in buildings that cannot be modified.

In addition, most of the information signs scattered around Ronda are being written in Braille so that blind visitors can enjoy more of the city than previously. All in all, these efforts are intended to meet and exceed accessibility guidelines and confirms the importance of tourism in Ronda.

Asked about other projects, Cañestro was quick to point out that refurbishment of the Paseo de los Ingleses and the Jardines de Cuenca are on track for completion by the end of the year, and will restore these two dilapidated parks, not just for the enjoyment of visitors, but also to improve their photographs.

Taking a longer term view, the councillor confirmed to Ronda Today that the long term objective for Ronda Tourism is to promote Ronda as a destination for families wanting a 3-4 day break. This is in marked contrast to previous councillors who have intimated that day trippers will always form the bulk of visitors to the city.

Whilst many would agree that day trippers are an important group of visitors to Ronda, their value to the city is minimal with most spending only a few Euros, contrasted with families who book hotel accommodation, hire cars, eat in restaurants, visit our museums, and travel to nearby villages. A single family staying in Ronda for 4 days will usually spend as much as a coach load of day trippers, and this fact is not lost on Cañestro.

To further promote the city, the town hall and the Junta de Andalucía are working to ensure that Ronda is featured prominently as a quality vacation destination. To that end the Andalucían Tourist Board will be restructuring their advertising to highlight the attractions of the Serranía de Ronda.

Finally, we asked Cañestro about plans for the Serranía de Ronda to be recognised as a UN World Heritage Site of Universal Importance, and as expected, the 22 town halls of the Serranía and the Málaga provincial council haven’t been able to agree on funding allocation and representation, though the Junta de Andalucía is said to be keen to submit the Serranía for consideration.

Despite the apparent slow changes, Cañestro is keen to push forward with projects, and welcomes the input of tourism operators. Ronda Today isn’t able to predict what will happen after May when the next municipal election is held, though in discussions with PSOE, PP, and PA, there seems to be broad consensus that tourism promotion must focus on vacationers instead of day trippers.

Logo of the Oficina de Turismo

Ronda Runner-Up in Tourism Awards

In the last week two significant tourism lists of popular destinations have been published, the TripAdvisor Best of Spain, and Nebrija Tourism Experience Awards, with Ronda appearing in both lists, though interestingly, at opposite ends of the spectrum.

The Nebrija Tourism Experience Awards honour Spanish cities or destinations that promote responsible and sustainable development, and are organised by professor Antonio de Nebrija of Madrid University, who is internationally renowned as a tourism expert and researcher. In the 2010 awards, Ronda narrowly missed out to Menorca for the top spot along with Torres de l’Ebre.

Contrast that with the TripAdvisor Best of Spain list that uses member data to determine the most popular and most appealing destinations from around Spain as chosen by travellers. The top 25 destinations in Spain include Ronda, however the city polled a dismal 25th spot, or in other words, was considered by TripAdvisor members to be the worst of the top 25 destinations.

The Alcalde of Ronda Antonio Marín Lara, who is also Councillor for Tourism following the resignation of Maribel Morales two weeks ago, described Ronda as a “clean and safe” destination and was at pains to stress Ronda is the third most visited destination in Andalucía after Sevilla and Granada, a statistic supported by the Junta’s Tourism Agency, Andalucía.org

The Nebrija Experience Awards are primarily a Spanish speaking award, whilst TripAdvisor attracts more international visitors to Spain, leading to the obvious conclusion that Spaniards really like Ronda, whereas international visitors prefer other destinations.

Ronda Today obviously disagrees with the TripAdvisor results, although it highlights a key failing of Tourism operators in the Serranía de Ronda; simply not enough is being done to attract people to Ronda and to inform them of what they can do when they visit.

In discussions with several local hotels, a recurring comment is that the owners do not know what it is that the three main tourism offices in the Serranía actually do. CIT (Turismo Rural), under the management of Alfredo Carrasco is exceptionally active in securing funding to promote the Serranía around the world, but most hoteliers are unaware of this.

Ronda Today can be reasonably certain CIT’s activities and their support for private tour operators such as Pangea Active Nature and Spanish Nature Tours is most likely the reason Ronda was second runner up in the Nebrija Experience Awards.

TripAdvisor’s Best of Spain list though is purely and simply a numbers game, the results are less likely to be researched, and more likely to represent brute numbers of people who visit, with some formula used to factor in the review scores given for hotels and activities. Significantly, the TripAdvisor page for Ronda is mostly given over to describing the Pente Nuevo, the Plaza de Toros, museums etc.

So where does Ronda really sit between these two lists? It is true Ronda is the third most visited city in Andalucía, but the overwhelming majority of visitors arrive by coach from the coast and spend a few hours seeing the gorge and Casgo Antiguo, then return to the coast in time for dinner. Their monetary value to Ronda is minimal, whilst people who stay a few days are more given to having researched the city beforehand, possibly using websites such as TripAdvisor.

We can be appreciative that TripAdvisor and similar sites are doing their bit to promote Ronda, yet me must be asking why these visitors are not giving Ronda a high enough review. Who is responsible for the poor showing of Ronda in the Best of Spain list? Is it the hotels for not doing enough to make their guests feel welcome in Ronda, or is it the tourism authorites for not doing enough to attract visitors in the first place?

Needless to say neither side will claim any responsibility. Hotel owners claim their role is to make the guest welcome when they are in the city, the implication being they believe the Ayuntamiento and tourism offices are responsible for ensuring guests enjoy their stay outside of the hotel. We can’t help but agree with some of the hotel owners, a glaring example of the woeful efforts of the Ayuntamiento is the new Turismo de Ronda website, the English translation of which really looks like it was done using Google Translate.

Ronda News: Morales Reported to Have Resigned from Council

Maribel Morales (PSOE), the Councillor for Tourism in Ronda is reported to have resigned her position in a long running dispute with the mayor Antonio Marín Lara over party direction. Morales has been an outspoken critic of the mayor since he and several other former Partido Andalucista (PA) councillors abandonded the PA and joined the PSOE.

Since Morales is PSOE, this means a replacement must be drawn from the PSOE list of candidates, with Charlotte Wilmot next on the list, however her official appointment may not be confirmed for several days whilst the PSOE executive meet to accept Morales resignation.

If Wilmot is endorsed by the PSOE executive, the mayor will need to decide if a council reshuffle is necessary, or simply allow Wilmot to step into Morales position as Councillor for Tourism. Our sources indicate Marín Lara may choose to reshuffle a handful of positions given the prestige associated with Tourism with many other councillors expected to be interested in the position.

Public disputes within the PSOE rarely bubble over into the public domain so Morales resignation which has been speculated on this week is a significant development and strengthens Lara’s hand going forward, and is now tipped to be appointed official candidate for mayor by the PSOE, whilst opposition to his appointment gives the appearance of crumbling.

Breaking News: The PSOE party president Francisco Cañestro has confirmed receiving Morales resignation and stated he would prefer she stay on within the party, but in a statement to the press Morales explained the PSOE are no longer being true to their Socialist roots and that in good conscience she cannot represent her electorate and work under these conditions.

Ronda Youth Hostel Tender Awarded

The tender to construct Ronda’s first youth hostel has been awarded to Urinci Sevenlite, a building company based in Ronda, with construction expected to begin before Easter.

Long talked about, a dedicated youth hostel in Ronda has been demanded by backpackers for years, yet until recently the project seemed destined to remain a pipe dream. Today’s announcement will no doubt be well received by backpacker tourism organizers.

To be located close to the bus station in the Poligono, the youth hostel will be constructed on a 2,138 sqm plot near the High Schools between calle Guadacobacin and calle Fernando de los Rios.

Upto 74 beds will be available in 15 rooms, whilst the plot will also contain a garden and space for parking. Design criteria call for the building to be energy self-sufficient and accessible for people with disabilities.

Twelve jobs will be created, and staff with an ability to speak at least one other language will be given preference, with particular need for English, French, and German.

Ronda’s councillor for urban planning María José Martín de Haro told Ronda Today the project has a budget of 780,000€ and is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

Maribel Morales, Charlotte Wilmot, and Remedios Ruiz

Ronda tourism gets accessibility, and a film festival

Ronda was recently represented at an international travel exposition, la Feria Internacional de Turismo (Fitur) in Madrid by the mayor Antonio Marín Lara and councillor for tourism Maribel Morales along with Alfredo Carrasco of CIT, and a small group of officials from the office of tourism and local business people.

Invited to participate by the Costa del Sol Tourism Board, Ronda representated the entire Serranía, including local villages such as Benaojan, Gaucín, Setenil, Grazalema, and displayed information about the three natural parks surrounding the Serranía.

The Serranía de Ronda is often under-represented within the travel industry, and is considered by many travel operators to be an inland Costa del Sol daytrip, a mindset the official tourism offices in Ronda are keen to dispel.

Major projects announced at this years Fitur were the accessibility of Ronda program, and further strengthening of the twinning relationship with the city of Cuenca in Castilla-La Mancha.

Over the next few months significants parts of the main tourist walk in Ronda, including streets in the old town, will be upgraded to make it convenient for people with limited mobility to enjoy the sites of Ronda. Unfortunately the cost and difficulty of making monuments such as the Mondragon Palace accessible isn’t possible.

However Ronda Today has learned the Arab Baths will soon be accessible to people in wheelchairs, a major step forward (pardon the pun) given the significance of Ronda’s Arab Baths in Western Europe. As well, the historically important Acinipo ruined city will soon also be more accessible to people of limited mobility.

Ronda’s twinning with Cuenca is to receive a major boost under an EU program. 300,000€ of European money has been allocated to encourage closer working between Ronda and Cuenca which both share a similar topology with an older city, gorge, and hanging houses.

Expertise in attracting tourists to Ronda will be studied by officials from Cuenca, a program Ronda tourism hopes they will be able to export to other cities.

At Fitur, Ronda’s mayor Marín Lara also announced the creation of a new film festival, the political film festival of Ronda, to be held annually in the city and will be a grade two festival, equivalent to the Berlin Film Festival.

This marks a significant development in the media industry in Ronda, which is also home to the Business Media School. Ronda’s political film festival in 2010 is scheduled to run from 27th November to 4th December, and has the financial backing of the Ministry of Culture in Madrid.