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Q: Record numbers of Australians visited the Euskadi Basque Country in 2023. What do you put this down to?

A: Australian tourists have always been very loyal to the Euskadi Basque Country: our traditions, festivals, culture, gastronomy, landscape and surfing are our main attractions.

As they become more familiar with us, we create new tourism products to offer a variety to all types of Australian tourists, allowing some to repeat their visit to the Euskadi Basque Country and others to find a wide range of tourism products: Euskadi – Basque Country Grand Tour, Cycling Euskadi, family-oriented Basque Country, Euskadi – Basque Country, Confidential…

Q: How will you maintain that momentum through 2024?

A: By creating new tourism products tailored to the Australian audience and also with the new connection from Turkish Airlines, which brings us closer to both destinations, in addition to the existing ones.

Q: Yes, the launch of Turkish Airlines flights from Melbourne-Istanbul-Bilbao must be very exciting for you?

A: Undoubtedly. Good air connectivity to attract visits from distant markets, such as Australia, is fundamental and strategic for any destination.

Therefore, having this connection brings us closer to this market and allows us to address promotion and support marketing efforts there.

Q: Tell us a little about ‘Euskadi-Basque Country Confidential’ that you unveiled here recently?

A: The “Euskadi-Basque Country Confidential” product brings together the most exclusive and unique tourism offerings of our destination.

It’s a carefully selected collection of more than 90 businesses from across the Basque territory, including accommodation, restaurants, shops, receptive agencies, tourist experiences, cultural and museum resources, transportation and other tourism services.

This product aims to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding traveller who seeks fully personalised services and wants to enjoy the destination by engaging in exclusive activities that make them feel unique and special.

Given that ours is a small, safe and uncrowded destination, this Confidential offer allows tourists to immerse themselves and have local experiences that make them feel part of the destination, learning about local perspectives, stories and establishments that are off the beaten path.

Euskadi-Basque Country showcases its ethical stance with a tourism offer committed to environmental care. All the companies participating in Confidential have demonstrated their commitment to advancing towards more sustainable tourism products and services.

We offer authenticity but with all the comforts. Fully personalised services and professionalism, focusing on the details that make each client unique, with full dedication towards them and a selection of specific and unbeatable products.

During the three days we promoted this product in Australia we observed that the capital of Gipuzkoa, with its incomparable Michelin-starred offerings, stood out the most. Bilbao is also known, but to a lesser extent.

Additionally, there was great interest in pintxos gastronomy and the enjoyment of the scenic contrasts between the sea and the mountains. Train travel and the Camino de Santiago were also popular topics among Australian operators during our time there.

Q: So clearly the Australian market is very important to you?

A: The Australian market in the Euskadi Basque Country is on the rise. Statistics indicate that in 2023 it grew significantly, with a total of 29,301 hotel arrivals, a 127% increase compared to 2022, and in the case of overnight stays, it also increased by 132% to 67,958.

Thus, the figures recorded in 2023 are the highest in the entire historical series. We expect to surpass these figures in 2024, as the growth prospects for the Australian market in the Euskadi Basque Country are good due to improved air connectivity, among other reasons.

Q: What kind of experience can people expect in the Euskadi Basque Country?

A: The Euskadi Basque Country is a small destination of contrasts between tradition and modernity, sea and mountain within very few kilometres, where connectivity is very good and in an hour you can go from one city to another, with the visit to Rioja Alavesa being the longest journey from the cities of San Sebastián or Bilbao; in this case, it would take one hour and 40 minutes from San Sebastián.

Here are the top 10 attractions we recommend for a first visit to the Euskadi Basque Country:

  • Bilbao
  • San Sebastián
  • Vitoria – Gasteiz
  • Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve
  • San Juan de Gatelugatxe
  • Bizkaia Bridge
  • The Assembly House of Gernika
  • Laguardia
  • Balenciaga Museum
  • The Sanctuary of Loyola

Of course, for a really great visit to the Euskadi Basque Country, you cannot miss the pintxos routes, our white wine called Txakoli, our red wine from Rioja Alavesa, our grills, cider houses, Michelin-starred restaurants…

Q: Are travel agents still an important part of delivering your destination message?

A: Of course. Although Australian tourists are very independent, travellers from such distant locations still use travel agencies, especially when it comes to premium tourism.

That’s why it’s very important for agents, tour operators and travel advisors to experience our destination firsthand.

To this end, and in collaboration with the Singapore-based Spanish Tourism Board office responsible for the Australian market, we organise familiarisation trips for both agents and the press.

Q: Finally, what are some of the interesting places that might not be on the main tourist circuit?

A: There’s nothing like getting lost on any of the eight routes of the Grand Tour Euskadi – Basque Country, where you’ll visit places off the beaten path.

You can travel at your own pace, discovering well-kept secrets and the rich heritage of our land.