Spanish coastal resorts losing their charm

25th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Many tourists are starting to turn their backs on the concrete jungles with aging infrastructure that many Spanish coastal resorts have become.

25 August 2008

MADRID -- The current economic climate is not the only thing working against Spain. Having been Europe's most popular sun-and-sand destination for the last four decades, many tourists are starting to turn their backs on the concrete jungles with aging infrastructure that many Spanish coastal resorts have become.

"It's like trying to compete in the 21st century with a car built in the 1960s," complains a senior manager of a Spanish hotel chain.

Resorts in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and in Andalusia in particular were the first to experience mass tourism and are showing their age. For many tourists, the price-to-quality ratio that once made Spain so attractive is no longer there. That is troubling for a country that has come to rely so heavily on tourism for its national economy.

The industry accounts for 11 percent of Spanish GDP and one in every 10 jobs, yet public financing of projects in the sector amounts to just 1.5 percent.

"We need big investments, like those that turned Bilbao, Valencia and Barcelona into successful urban destinations," an Exceltur spokesperson says.

The Renove Plan, an ambitious EUR 2.5-billion initiative to spruce up Spanish cities, towns and resorts in tourism areas, may help over the coming years, though many in the sector fear it may be too little too late.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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