What’s driving more Aussies to visit Portugal? What spots are they missing out on in Spain? And what issues do Agents face when selling Morocco?

Portugal, Spain and Morocco are three of Europe’s hottest destinations, but despite their popularity, they’re still somewhat a mystery to the general travelling public and in some cases, Travel Agents.

Here to help us understand how consultants can overcome overtourism in Spain, uncertainty in Portugal and misconceptions in Morocco, is the travel industry’s number one expert in all three countries, Discover Travel’s Director & Senior Destination Specialist, Gill Gaspar.


Spain, Portugal & Morocco, which is the fastest growing among Aussies & why?


Gill with the Discover Travel team at a recent event in Sydney.

We are seeing growth in all three but especially in Portugal, followed by Morocco. I feel this is due to Portugal, which was always Europe’s secret little jem, no longer being a secret.

Portugal has won a number of international travel awards and river cruising on the Douro river has taken off thanks to Australian companies who have permanent ships leased on the Douro.

There’s also Scenic, and Evergreen who are actually investing and building their own ships just for the Douro, with this comes much more marketing for these products in our market.

There are other reasons such as the food, people love the food, and wine etc. but these are the main reasons I see for this growth.


Although Spain is a traditional destination for Aussies, are there parts you think they’re missing out on seeing?


Girona in Spain was used for Cersei’s ‘walk of shame’ in Game of Thrones.

Spain is amazing and as you mentioned many Australians have been to the more well know parts of Spain like Madrid, parts of Andalucia and off course Barcelona as many cruise ships start and end there.

However, there are so many places Aussies are missing out on like Girona, which fans of Game of Thrones may recognise as it was used in the filming of series five, and the Costa Brava with its rugged coastline and its gorgeous beaches that are less than two hours from Barcelona.

There are the medieval towns of La Rioja like Laguardia, Logrono the whitewashed villages of Andalucia like Arcos de la Frontera and Grazalema, Sentenil de las Bodegas, Ronda, plus many others and I haven’t even started on Northern Spain and Basque Country with its little fishing Villages of Getaria, Mutriku, Castro Urdiales, San Vincente de la Barquera, Oviedo, Ferrol, A Caruna. Oh, don’t get me started on central Spain, Burgos, Leon, Salamanca and many more.


Over tourism has become an issue in Spain over the last few years, how do you avoid adding to that cluster of visitors?


Image: Mario Álvarez/Unsplash

Over tourism is, unfortunately, a problem in many cities and countries in Europe and the world. Spain, especially Barcelona, are not immune but this can be avoided by going during different seasons or better still to other parts of Spain.

I’d suggest Aussies avoid the crowds by visiting Cantabria, Asturias and especially Galicia, the Basque Country, which has many parts that do not get as many visitors as the more popular parts like San Sebastian. There is also so much more to Catalunya for visitors than Barcelona.

Another way to get away a little from the crowds is to avoid the larger cities during weekends as they get so many weekend visitors from other countries in Europe as they are all so close.


Do you think Portugal’s success could be a result of Spain’s overtourism issue?


Image: LEMUR/Unsplash

No, I do not think this is the case, but Spain has helped Portugal due to them being neighbours and people wanting to see and discover new destinations, and it’s an obvious choice.

The two countries have a wonderful main road system, so it is easy for people doing self-drives in Spain and continuing into Portugal. We always make this suggestion or include it in itineraries we design.

Plus, I think the genie is out of the bottle, and people are hearing so much about Lisbon and Portugal in general that they are curious to see what it’s all about.


Are there any challenges Agents face in selling a country like Portugal?


Image: Bruno Luz/Unsplash

I think the challenges for Agents is knowing where to send their clients and how to construct an itinerary that works as there is more to Portugal than Lisbon and Porto, this can also be said for parts of Spain.


What are some tips you’d offer them to overcome these challenges and to help them drive more sales?


Image: Ricardo Resende/Unsplash

My tip is to consult true destination specialists like us, as we can really help by designing itineraries or products that work for their clients we know where to go and when to go.

There as there is very little of Portugal or Spain that my team and I have not been too at least a number of times, we can help Agents book hotels, city stays, tours (both city and multiday), etc. on our B2B portal.


Morocco’s popularity is also growing but do you think it’s still plagued by its association to Arabic culture?


Image: Federico Gutierrez/Unsplash

I think it’s not-so-much the Arab culture as this is part of the attraction, but the issues that we’ve all seen and still see on our TV’s most evenings has slowed growth.

Morocco is far removed from these issues and we are seeing that the number of enquires are really increasing especially for city stays and small to medium size groups. Morocco isn’t the easiest place to do a self-drive journey


What other misconceptions do Aussies tend to have about Morocco?


Image: Martin Zangerl/Unslash

Some may call them misconceptions, others say it’s fears, but the main ones are the food, the accommodation facilities and of course safety.

The food in Morocco is amazing, it also offers a wide range of accommodation from deluxe 5-star hotels to the amazing and culturally beautiful Riads. Morocco is a safe country but you do need to know where to go and as in most cities. where not to go.


What are some tips you’d offer Agents to help them sell more trips to Morocco?


Image: Louis Hansel/Unsplash

I would suggest that they recommend to their clients to have everything organised either by doing a group or small group tour or having all their accommodation, transfers andPort tours booked and confirmed, this is where we can help.


Have you travelled to Portugal, Morocco or Spain?