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Germany surrenders to the joys of the Great Challenge (Gran Desafío), a new 2015 tourist attraction.

Diputación de Málaga
News

Germany surrenders to the joys of the Great Challenge (Gran Desafío), a new 2015 tourist attraction.

The Costa del Sol presents the Great Path, Coastal Path and El Caminito del Rey path in front of eighty professionals from German tourist industry.

ITB Berlin gives the opportunity to meet operators who are specialized in hiking.

These three attractions can host 2.5 million visitors a year.

At ITB Berlin Convention, the Costa del Sol presented their main inland tourist attractions for this year: the Great Challenge, which includes three cultural heritage sites — The Great Málaga Path, the Coastal Path and El Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway).

This event took place at the fair yesterday afternoon, and was attended by Costa del Sol Tourism delegate Carlos Conde and County Council representative for Tourism and Territory Promotion JacoboFlorido. Round eighty professionals from the tourist industry, including tour operators, on-line agencies, press and bloggers gathered for the presentation. All of them were favourably impressed by the possibilities that these tourist destinations offer to visitors, such as hiking all around the province, rambling along the coast for 180 km, and enjoy a walk at an altitude of 100 metres along the refurbished path, called El Caminito del Rey.

During his speech, MrConde pointed out the main qualities of the Costa del Sol, such as the weather conditions — an average annual temperature of twenty degrees centigrade, more than 320 sunny days a year; and a great tourism supply for this century tourists, which includes golf, health, wellness, and cultural tourism, among others. He pointed out that 'these stunning tourist attractions are supposed to attract tourists in autumn and winter, and to keep building customer loyalty in German market. This country's tourists know the Costa del Sol very well , since 71% of German population has already been to this destination and would like to visit it in future (38% in the near future and 33% in distant future).

MrConde has also explained that 96% of German visitors who come to the Costa del Sol promise to recommend this destination to their friends and family, and that every five of them (20%) specify that the purpose of their visit are holidays in the inland and the natural environment.Because of this, the Great Challenge is becoming a perfect tourist attraction, which can receive 2.5m travellers a year.

At the end of the event, many German agencies were interested in this tourist product and were willing to include the Great Challenge among their tourist supply.The Costa del Sol's delegates met the corporate delegates of Krauland, the company specialized in hiking routes.Krauland's representative Wolfgang Krauland, worldwide tracking expert who collaborated with famous brands, such as Neckerman and Thomas Cook, affirmed that the presentation had been 'stunning'. He said that he noticed the changes that had been made, because he had climbed in the area of El Caminito del Rey twenty years ago.After the meeting with the above agency, MrFlorido concluded: 'We made progress in launching this product as we committed ourselves to future meetings and to creating an action plan.'

There was a meeting with another tour operator specialized in hiking and journeys to Spain, called Schlosser Reisen, during ITB Convention. Future business plans for the Great Challenge marketing in Germany were created with this company as well.

Discover Fuente de Piedra Lagoon                        
Today at ITB, a new project of inland and nature tourism was promoted.                  'Discover Fuente de Piedra Lagoon' is a project which advertises natural, cultural and tourist values of the Nature Reserve Fuente de Piedra Lagoon.MrFlorido said: 'This spot is ideal for ornithological (birding) tourism due to the biggest colony of flamingo birds in Spain, and the second largest of the kind in Europe. Moreover, some other activities related to nature can be done in this reserve, and there is cultural and leisure tourist supply in surrounding towns and villages, such as Fuente de Piedra or Campillos.’

This project is going to be presented on the website, which will also spread information about the reserve and host some other initiatives that will gradually be developed through specific actions, such as, events on social networks.

The Great Path
The Great Málaga Path is 650 km long and contains 35 stages. It was officially open this year in February. This is the only route of its kind in Andalusia. It covers a diverse range of landscapes and natural surroundings of the province. This unique trail enlivens interest for natural environment of the province and promotes Malaga's towns and villages.

This circular route can be started at any of its parts. It is 650 km long, and goes through 70% of Malaga's municipalities. It stimulated local economy by creating 6,500 job posts in an indirect way, and it had a positive impact on 1,500 inland accommodation establishments.

The Great Path entailed identifying, register and adaptation of ways, paths for livestock, mountain and other kinds of tails and paths, as well as river banks.
Thanks to it, the province got connected with the Mozarabic Way of St James (Camino Mozárabe de Santiago), and, therefore, with the national and European trail network, as well as with the Long-Distance European Trail (GR-92 E-12), called the Mediterranean Trail, which ends in Greece.

The Coastal Path, is a cultural heritage with beautiful nature, divided in 400 stages. This is a footpath that stretches from Balcón de Europa Viewpoint in Nerja to the Port of Duquesa de Manilva. It was created by the County Council with intention to connect the coastal parts of the Costa del Sol and its fourteen municipalities (180 km).

Today, 75% of the Malaga's coast is connected by the footpath. 40km-long part is to be adapted, although the works on 17km-long stretch have already started.The cost of the project is 30m euros, and it is planned to be carried out within five years, although many of its sections have already been finished.

The construction of the Coastal Path involves connecting some old structures such as sea fronts, lanes, paths, etc., and building some new parts. It will be developed in co-operation with other responsible institutions.

Moreover, thanks to the Coastal Path, the Costa del Sol can be seen as the whole, a tourist product that spans the entire coast of the province, and stretches east to west. It will as well make possible for visitors to get closer to the attractive natural spots that form part of the municipalities, such as the Cantales de La Araña, Peñón del Cuervo Mountain or the mouth of the Guadalhorce (Málaga), Punta Chullera (Manilva), Artola Dunes (Marbella), the Vélez Delta (Vélez-Málaga) or the mountainous area between Calahonda and Calaburras (Mijas).Forty-two watchtowers on the coast of Málaga, as well as the Phoenician ruins in Vélez-Málaga can be also seen from the path.

El Caminito del Rey Path was open on 28th March. It consists of ancient and dizzy boardwalks that go over the Gaitanes Gorge, placed in the beauty spot El Chorro (The Spurt). The path has been refurbished for its opening on March 28th.

It was built so the maintenance workers could approach the Hydroelectric Power Company El Chorro and carry materials.The first refurbishment was started in 1901 and finished in 1905.It was named El Caminito del Rey (the King's Little Pathway) after King Alfonso XIII who crossed the boardwalks in order to officially open the Count of Guadalhorce's Reservoir.

The refurbishment works were done along four kilometres of the path, above all on the 1.2km-long boardwalks, which are hundred metres above the level of the Guadalhorce. The boardwalks had been closed due to its neglected condition.
The new boardwalks were made of wooden boards and moorings which are drilled onto the rock. Some sections have glass floor so the visitors could see the gorge and the original path.

The route is 7.7 km long  (this includes 4.4km-long access ways and 2.9km-long boardwalks), and the entrance will be free for six months, although there is to book the tickets on http://www.caminitodelrey.info/.