Spain is not actively courting this market, whereas the Greek government is. This strategy also allows Greece to leverage the power of its other strengths. Greece has as much sun as Spain, which while not a competitive advantage can be combined with the conference focus to enhance it. Additionally, Greece would also leverage its comparative advantage in history. A conference in Greece would afford the conference-goers an opportunity to do more than simply attend a trade show or meeting. They could take a few extra days to enjoy the sun and the sights. This would enhance the economic potential of the conference market.
The conference business is growing, recent economic troubles notwithstanding. Companies and industry groups are constantly seeking new, exciting destinations for their conference travel. Greece, with its traditional focus on island-tourism, is a new horizon for this market. Because Greece already has a substantial infrastructure and myriad attractions, it is able to easily absorb substantial market share increases in conferences.
While Greece is developing products based on their comparative advantages, Spain should continue to develop products based on their absolute competitive advantages. The nation can develop a new resort along the Mediterranean coast, following the lead of nations such as Mexico, Cuba or Jamaica, each of whom has added new destinations to their tourism brochures in recent years. For Spain, this new resort still plays on the sunshine and beaches. But it can be developed nearby to an existing tourist draw, to leverage Spain's strong infrastructure. We can see a parallel in Negril/Montego Bay, Jamaica, where the latter was developed to take advantage of a growing tourism industry in the former. Spain also has the opportunity to leverage its infrastructure and abundant natural gifts to combine a new resort town with an existing town, perhaps one that already has a strong draw of another type, such as cultural.
For Greece, the economic impact of tourism is essential to the country's economy. Approximately 15% of Greece's GDP is attributable to the tourism industry. The conference business has until recent years made up very little of that. However, if Greece can capture a greater share of Europe's conference trade, it can expect to add $1 billion dollars to its tourism intake. This would represent an increase of 7.3% over tourism receipts in 2005, on top of the natural increase in receipts (WTO, 2005). Conceivably, Greece could add $5 billion in additional receipts just from new conference business.
For Spain, a new resort could have significant impact. At present, the bulk of the country's tourist infrastructure focuses on four main areas - Costa Brava (Catalonia), Costa del Azahar (Valencia), Andalucia and the Balearic Islands. Tourism presently contributes $47.8 billion to the Spanish economy. The development of another resort area, by adding onto a strong secondary tourism region, could conceivably add another $5 billion within a few years, and upwards of $10 billion by the end of the next decade.
In comparing the tourism industries of Greece and Spain, we can see that Spain has absolute competitive advantages in almost every facet of the tourist business. The result is the world's second-largest tourist industry. Yet, there are areas where Greece has a comparative advantage, where it is almost as good as Spain. For Greece, the key to maintaining competitiveness is to find ways to leverage those comparative advantages. If they focus on a market that they have traditionally ignored, such as the conference business, they gain bring new customers to Greece. The conference business helps Greece get around their competitive disadvantages by attracting tourists that Spain is not courting. This allows Greece the opportunity to exploit its comparative advantages.
For Spain, the development of a new tourism region, in particular by enhancing an existing region with further development, will give the country the opportunity to leverage its considerable competitive advantages. Spain does not need to develop new advantages, it just needs to build out more capacity to help make the most efficient use of those advantages.
No author. (2005). World's Top Tourism Destinations. World Tourism Organization. Retrieved March 11, 2009 at http://unwto.org/facts/menu.html
No author. (2005). Spain Slips to 6th Place in Tourism-Industry Rankings. World Economic Forum. Retrieved March 11, 2009 at http://www.surinenglish.com/20090305/news/spain/spain-slips-place-tourism-200903051003.html
No author. (2005). International Tourism Receipts by Country of Destination. World Tourism Organization. Retrieved…