This Wednesday the most important international tourism fair in the world has begun, Fitur, which is held in Madrid until Sunday. The King and Queen have starred in the inauguration with a walk through the Ifema pavilions, in which they have been accompanied by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, and the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, a member country of this edition, among others. During the visit, a new gesture of conciliation by Felipe VI with Morocco, the visit to the neighboring country's stand, stood out.
The Monarch avoided going through the Moroccan exhibitor in the previous edition, since Madrid and Rabat were then immersed in a deep migration crisis. However, on this occasion, with a more peaceful situation, the King has been able to visit the facility. On Monday, at the reception for the diplomatic corps at the Royal Palace, the Monarch already encouraged Morocco to walk together to “begin to materialize the new relationship” between the two countries on stronger and more solid pillars.
At the reception, Felipe VI stressed that the governments of the two countries “have agreed to jointly redefine a relationship for the 21st century”, with the aim, he said, of “finding solutions to the problems that concern” both peoples. This was the first time that the King publicly referred to a diplomatic crisis that has lasted eight months. Morocco has closed its borders since the end of November to contain the spread of coronavirus, although the forecast is that they will reopen on February 1, hence its presence at the fair.
At the inauguration of Fitur, the Monarch has once again shown his support for a sector in great need of good news after the pandemic hit. More so now if possible, that after the recovery registered during the summer it has been slowed down again by the expansion of the omicron variant. On the way, Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have passed through the different autonomous communities present at the fair. The first stop was at the Galicia stand for the celebration of the Jacobean Holy Year. There they were received by the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo.
Another of the special visits between the regions has been his visit to the Canary Islands, where he has shown his solidarity with La Palma after the damage caused by the volcano. The Kings have also visited companies such as Iberia or Paradores. And, finally, some of the countries that are also present, with a more extensive stop in the Dominican Republic, a partner country of this edition of Fitur, where they have been received with a typical dance. Among the companies, his time at Iryo (Island), one of the new railway companies that will compete with Renfe and the French SNCF, has also stood out. Iryo, which is participating in Fitur for the first time, will be one of the two private operators that will enter high speed in Spain.
With all these stages, Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have recovered their traditional tour of the fair, which last year they were forced to greatly reduce due to health restrictions. This walk, yes, has been marked by strong security and covid control measures, both in access to the fair with delays of more than an hour and in its route. Among the prerequisites, for example, was the mandatory presentation of the covid passport, something that has caused long queues at the entrance to the fair.
This new edition of Fitur is the second to be held in the midst of a pandemic —last year it was delayed to May in order to celebrate it—. This year 107 countries and almost 7,000 companies and representatives participate. The forecast is that the fair will receive 60,000 professionals and 30,000 visitors from the general public, 50% more than last year. The surface of the fair reaches 56,700 square meters and has some novelties, such as the exclusive space to promote the cruise industry (Fitur Cruises).