L’Echo tourisme: A few months ago, PortAventura World opened an office in Paris. Is the French market still strategic for you?
David Garcia: In 2019, we welcomed 5.1 million visitors and one million of them were French. The market represents, in a typical year, between 18 and 20% of our total visitors. So this is a strategic market, indeed. And we believe we can do better. That’s why we opened an office in Paris with two salesmen. 80% of our French visitors come from the south of France. We must conquer the Ile-de-France market, which is a large population pool, and which lends itself well to packaged formulas with admission to flights, hotels and our parks. We have two people in charge of the work council, one part very specific to France and one part of MICE. And we have two people, in Spain, who run all these activities.
Is this an unprecedented source of wealth for France?
David Garcia: Yes, we were not so present. But it shows how much we invest in the French market. In two years, we would like to welcome another 30% French visitors. So, as of this year, we must take 1,150,000. So we must be more present, in all departments and especially with the work council. Last year we had an event, during our Halloween season, where 250 of them were our guests. In 2022, there will be 500. In early spring we visited 500 travel agencies in the south of France. This is what makes us confident. The first family to come through the park’s gate, when it opened a few weeks ago, was French প্রথম the first such incident since Port Aventura World opened in 1995. I see this as a very positive sign for next year.
Has the season started well?
David Garcia: We see the same trend in the last quarter of 2021: a very good trend. We welcomed more than 500,000 visitors to our thematic season around Easter, the first in our history. This is 20% more than the same period in 2019, which was a record year for PortAventura World. We rejoice because it proves the success of our event. But we also know that there is a very strong market appetite for leisure parks coming out of the epidemic. Moreover, 200,000 French people have already visited us this year. For the summer, we are seeing a 30 to 40% increase in reservations at our hotels compared to 2019, depending on the week. If we have no bad surprises in the event of an epidemic or an international geopolitical situation, we should welcome 5.3 million visitors and therefore lose our historic attendance record. However, recovering our customers after the epidemic was our main challenge.
PortAventura What are the other challenges in the world?
David Garcia: We need to accelerate the digitization of our experience. The world of entertainment is changing, and our customers are looking for new ways to have fun. We need to be able to give them those opportunities. For example, we’ve launched The Beat Challenge, a free game accessible game via a smartphone that lets you take on the challenge, in augmented reality, in your living room or in the parks of PortAventura World. We want to reach out to different customers through such initiatives. This is also the reason for our new restaurant in partnership with the Spanish Football Championship La Liga. We’ll be moving to Metaverse by the end of the year, and we’re testing bitcoin payments at our hotels. We try to be visible wherever we can. We make entertainment, so we have to give people what they expect.
Does it involve more traditional investments, such as new attractions?
David Garcia: A leisure park has to offer something new every year. A while ago, I was talking to one of my competitors who used the image of fire for our art. If you don’t keep the fire burning enough, it goes out … and the customers stop coming. So we must always offer new experiences, including for 70% of our loyal customers who have come at least once in their life. This year we have invested in new shows. We will be playing 45 performances a day this summer. We have established new partnerships, such as with MTV, which will host concerts in Port Aventura World. And we’re working on a new key for our Halloween season, which will include a new ‘haunted house’ and Christmas season. A major project has also begun in the far western part of Port Aventura Park … this is our next major attraction, which will open in 2023 and which will provide a unique experience in Europe.
Has the epidemic canceled or delayed some of your projects?
David Garcia: We have a development plan that has not been affected. Including projects that are not related to authentic and solid products like our CSR policy. At the end of the year, we will inaugurate our photovoltaic plant, which will generate one third of the electricity consumption of Port Aventura World. We want to build six additional homes in two years for our “Port Aventura Dreams” project. In this home, we welcome sick children, and their families, for a week’s stay that allows them to reunite after having often difficult moments together. This year, we will welcome more than 200 people. This kind of project will inspire us and make us proud. This is an increasingly strong demand from our customers… and our employees! During an interview, I was recently asked what initiatives we are taking in this regard and how our 3,000 employees are associated with them.