Obama effect wasted without direct flights to Malaga

THE hype associated with First Lady, Michelle Obama’s visit to Andalucia last Summer is being wasted as there are no direct flights between Malaga and the US, according to Andalucia Association of Travel Agents (AATA).

The tourism industry in the Axarquia was hoping the massive amount of publicity surrounding the Obama visit would bring US tourists flocking to the area.

Yet only flight connecting Andalucia to the USA is one operated by Delta Airlines between Malaga and New York, but it is only available during the summer months.

Delta launched the flight in June 2008, with a view to it operating all year round, but in October 2009, it was decided that it would only be in the summer.

The Junta de Andalucia Tourism Department proposed that Iberia operate the flight, but this idea was not taken up.

Andalucia hotels received 369,959 visitors from the USA last year, 17.2 per cent more than in 2009, most of whom visit the area for its history, gastronomy, golf and culture, as well as for business.

AATA President Pedro Garcia, says the visit is now “little more than a positive memory”, but that it would be ideal to promote Andalucia in a country which is already finding its way out of the economic crisis.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Villa Padierna Hotel in Benahavis, where Michelle Obama stayed, said that it had been a boost not only for the hotel, but for Marbella, Andalucia and Spain as a whole.

However, he says that this has not had a significant impact on the number of reservations from the USA.

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