As a strategic maritime location over the centuries, Gibraltar International Airport can now add aviation to the many opportunities available at the gateway to the Mediterranean.
2014 has certainly been a bumper year for Gibraltar International Airport as it recorded a 10.6% growth in the first half. January was the highest month for growth with 33.9% recorded, pushing traffic growth up in the first quarter to 20.5%.
All five routes to the UK recorded growth of between 11.0% and 49.0% in this period and continue to operate on a year-round basis. Destinations served are London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, Birmingham and Manchester. These figures highlight the attractiveness and potential of Gibraltar as a year-round destination.
For the period of January-June 2014, an additional 21,000 passengers travelled through the airport. Gibraltar-originating traffic is approximately 25.0% of passengers carried and more than 23.0% of all passengers travelling are doing so on business.
Hotel stock is on the increase with a new yacht hotel - Gibraltar's first five-star product - bringing in an additional 189 hotel rooms to 'the Rock'. Established hotels are also undergoing extensive refurbishments to rooms and product offerings, and planning application has been approved for a 225-room four-star international brand. Further projects to increase hotel stock are also in the pipeline.
The Port of Gibraltar is one of the busiest cruise-liner ports in the Mediterranean. Approximately 300,000 passengers were handled on port-of-call visits up to mid-2014 and Gibraltar is included in the itineraries of major cruise lines operating worldwide. Thanks to the compactness of Gibraltar, porting and turnaround opportunities present themselves thanks to the airport and cruise terminal being only six minutes away from each other. Aircraft handled can go up to Boeing-757 size.
Gibraltar's economy continues to grow with a forecast GDP for 2014 being £1.41 billion - up 10.3% on the previous year, and on track to exceed £1.65 billion by 2015. GDP per capita now ranks as one of the highest in the world according to IMF rankings. With low tax rates for corporates, Gibraltar has attracted a variety of multinational companies over the past few years. Gibraltar has also developed a financial and commercial infrastructure to meet the needs of new enterprises that are seeking a low-cost operation based in Europe. As a business location, it provides a high-quality, professional service overseen by European Union standards of regulation. The numerous trading entities and financial services companies, which already have a base in Gibraltar, are testament to this.
A new World Trade Centre building broke ground in early 2014 and will provide much needed office space, and work on a brand new development in the centre of town providing office space and accommodation has also started with further developments also being planned.
Gibraltar is also making its mark in year-round events; 2014 has seen a variety of events that have established themselves firmly in the calendar. Such events include international chess, literary and a variety of music festivals, attracting international attendees and growing in popularity.
Gibraltar is ideal as a city-break destination with an abundance of history, culture, natural history and shopping available to suit all tastes and budgets.
Also, due to its strategic location, the airport is the gateway to southern Iberia - the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz - so opportunities stretch far beyond the territory. Second homes in the area, belonging to a large diaspora of northern Europeans, present ideal opportunities for year-round and VFR traffic. Morocco and the port city of Tangier is only a short ferry ride away, and offers the possibility of two breaks in one.