Tag Archives: Tourism

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 with Wildside Holidays – Grazalema 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.

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.