routesRoutes Europe highlights Europe’s different destinations and aviation markets by moving to a new city every year. And for its 2018 event the host city is announced as Basque Country’s Bilbao. An autonomous region of northern Spain, the Basque Country’s distinct language, culture, food, history and landscape have cultivated a thriving tourist industry. Over 2.5 million people visited the region in 2014, which represents a huge leap of 34.6% compared to the previous ten years.

The Basque Government and Basquetour have won a highly competitive bid to host the Routes Europe air service development forum in Bilbao in 2018. Bilbao will host airports, airlines and tourism authorities to discuss future European air services since 2006.

Hosting Routes Europe will support Bilbao and the wider Basque Country’s economy by bringing the aviation industry to this vibrant part of the world. Around 1,200 of the most senior decision makers from over 100 airlines, 300 airports and 40 tourism authorities are expected to attend the event in 2018.

Routes Europe will present the opportunity to showcase Bilbao Airport which handled four million passengers in 2014 (a 5.6% increase compared to 2013). The region’s smaller airports, San Sebastian and Victoria-Gastiez (which deals mainly with cargo), will also be brought to the attention of Europe’s aviation industry.

The Basque Country’s attractions include the Basque Mountains, the Rioja Alavesa wine region, the resort town of San Sebastián and the 250km of beaches, estuaries, cliffs and fishing villages that run along the Basque Coast. The unofficial capital is Vitoria-Gastiez, but the city it is most famous for is, of course, the revitalised Bilbao.