Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lleida’s Alguaire Airport Targetting Israeli Market


Catalan-Israeli relations keep moving forward in myriad fields, among them tourism. The presence of Israeli visitors in Catalonia is becoming an increasingly common sight. Some are attracted by the country's Jewish legacy, while others travel to visit some areas of great natural beauty in the Pyrenees. In the mountains to the North of Lleida, in Western Catalonia, they are already third in the ranking of foreign tourists, while the total number of Israeli visitors to Catalonia stands at 300,000 per year.


In order to keep numbers growing, it is however essential to upgrade infrastructure, and direct air links in particular. This fits with the need of Lleida's Alguaire Airport to secure new routes and markets to consolidate. At a recent interview with the Catalan News Agency, the chairman of Lleida's Provincial Council, Joan Rene, confirmed plans to turn Alguaire into a hub for Israeli tourists visiting Catalonia. He explained that negotiations with Israeli tour operators would soon begin. Rene cautioned, however, that this would require some time, and that the first flights would not take place until the summer of 2014 at the earliest.


Tourism is thus one of the many areas in which Catalan-Israeli relations are decisively moving forward. Israel inspires Catalonia in her quest for freedom, while an independent Catalonia will contribute to Israeli national security. In the economic arena, both trade and investment are growing, and the same can be said about scientific and technical cooperation. Should Alguaire Airport's plans be successful, this would facilitate further growth in Israeli tourism in Catalonia. Beyond its immediate economic impact, it would be another stepping stone toward a comprehensive partnership between two natural allies in the Mediterranean.



Alex Calvo, professor of international law and international relations at European University, is currently guest professor at Nagoya University

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