Expatica news

Package holiday firms desert Spain

7 April 2004

GLASGOW – Traditional Spanish package holiday resorts are falling out of favour with major British holiday companies, it was reported Wednesday.

The Costa Brava, which includes the towns of Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar and Blanes, is to be dropped by First Choice. Its rival Cosmos is expected to follow.

Scotland’s Glasgow Herald newspaper reported that the British tour company Club 18-30 is dropping Lloret and Benidorm, on the Costa Blanca, as destinations.

Tour operators claim these destinations have become too much “like Blackpool”, the English seaside resort.

Cosmos is pulling Ibiza as a family holiday destination, and Thomas Cook warned that holidaymakers were looking for alternatives to Spain, which has been the first choice for Britons for decades.

The demise of the Costa Brava signals what could be the end of cheap package deals to one of the first parts of Spain to attract a mass market of British holidaymakers in the late 60s and early 70s.

It opened up Spain as a destination to the first generation of Britons regularly holidaying abroad, and led to Majorca, the Canaries and the Costa del Sol following suit.

Holiday companies believe rising hotel prices and competition from budget airlines have made it uneconomical to serve the region north of Barcelona.

Ryanair flies to Girona on the Costa Brava, and holidaymakers are now booking their own flights, accommodation and car hire, avoiding the package deals offered by travel agents.

Britons also appear to be getting more adventurous in their choice of holiday.

First Choice sends around 10 percent of the 140,000 package passengers who go to the Costa Brava from Britain every year.

But  it is increasingly promoting newer destinations, including Bulgaria, North Africa and Dubai.

It will axe the Costa Brava from its 2005 brochures, while Cosmos admitted the region was “borderline” for its next set of brochures.

First Choice said its customers were suffering from destination fatigue over the Costa Brava, and that hotels in the area needed to improve or offer greater variety.

Tim Williamson, its product director, told Travel Weekly, the industry magazine: “In many other parts of Spain these properties are being developed – in the Costa Brava they are not.”

But Spanish tourist chiefs claimed the country is trying to develop better quality hotels rather than just chase the budget travellers.

Manuel Butler, the Spanish Tourist Office director, said: “This is not good news, but I think the hoteliers are moving in the right direction.”

Jaume Marin, Girona marketing director, said: “We are confident in the quality of our hotels. First Choice is just one operator, others are already interested in taking its places.”

[Copyright Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news