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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Pablo Picasso, and tributes are being held throughout the country throughout the year, with much of the activity taking place in five cities that were central to the life of a man who became a household name in art circles — his hometown of Malaga, the only city home to two museums devoted to the artist; Madrid; Barcelona; Bilbao and A Coruña.
“It’s a huge deal,” says Barbara Couto, who oversees the Tourist Office of Spain’s Toronto office. “He’s a very important figure.”
And says Barbara Couto, events such as the anniversary should spur more people form this country to visit her homeland, furthering the recovery from a couple of tough pandemic years.
“I expect they (Canadian visitations) will fully recover,” she says. “The trend we see now is that Canadians are booking.”
2022 Canadian visitations were 84% of the 2019 figure, with 376,549 Canadians visiting. August saw a particularly impressive 130%.
“Everything is open,” Couto says of Spain. “When you go now you’ll see people in the restaurants like before.
“We have everything we had before.”
The Spanish lifestyle — in which the likes of outdoor dining figures prominently — helped Spain cope with Covid, she continues.
Spanish tourism authorities will this year be energetically promoting the country’s food and wine, with Couto saying Spanish wine tends to be better than most other European wines. Those visiting Spanish wineries can also opt for such outdoors activities as hiking and horseback riding.
“It [Spanish wine] differs from region to region, like everything in Spain,” Couto says. “We are a very diverse country.”
Spain also has numerous restaurants that have earned Michelin Star ratings, with 39 Michelin Green Stars awarded there for environmentally sustainable practices.
Couto realizes it’s unlikely that Spanish beaches will be the prime attraction for visiting Canadians but suggests we can visit some of the country’s famed oceanfront — such as the Costa del Sol and the Costa Brava — during vacations that also explore interior Spain.
Meanwhile, there are a number of positive airline developments for Couto, with WestJet this year planning seasonal Calgary-Barcelona service, a first for the carrier. The service will begin in April.
Air Canada routes include Montreal-Barcelona, Toronto-Barcelona and Toronto-Madrid, while Air Transat has decided to offer Montreal-Barcelona, Montreal-Madrid and Montreal-Malaga, as well as Toronto-Barcelona routes.
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