Costa's 'costalot' as Spanish tourism hit by crisis
As widely forecast, the current economic crisis and the fall in the value of the Pound Sterling against the Euro has had a severe impact on one of Spain’s largest industries , tourism.
The latest figures released by the country’s National Statistics Institute even call into question Spain’s status as the world’s second biggest holiday destination, revealing that hotel occupancy rates have tumbled by 10.6 per cent when comparing November, 2008 to the previous year, this following on from a 5.1 per cent drop in October, 2008.
The Spanish Ministry of Tourism has announced that tourists arriving during the first eleven months of the year fell by 2 per cent when compared to the same period in 2007.
Foreign visitors staying overnight showed dramatic declines particularly amongst British visitors who topped the poll of declining percentages at 12.1 per cent.
Tourism accounts for 12 per cent of Spain’s Gross Domestic Product and with the official unemployment rate now standing at three million, urgent measures are now being given priority to attract more visitors.
UK based travel agencies have seen marked increases in enquiries and bookings for holiday packages outside the Euro Zone and destinations in Turkey, Egypt and along the North African coasts have seen a surge. Many purchasing holidays based their decision on better value for money and higher standards in these places compared to the traditional holiday locations along Spain’s Mediterranean ‘Costas’.
One of the capitals of tourism in Spain, Benidorm, recently snubbed the basic beach ‘bucket and spade’ British tourist by introducing a wide range of laws to control the conduct of visitors including a dress code for the beaches, a ‘no sand castle’ rule, and amusingly a prohibition of urinating in the sea and the Mayor has promised that these new regulations will be strictly enforced.
Benidorm now has aspirations to secure itself as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the municipality has stated clearly that it intended to turn away from the more traditional British holiday maker and to promote itself as a more exclusive venue attracting a wealthier clientele.
Recently, a representative of the nearby Torrevieja International Business Association (TIBA) remarked in the press that an almost apartheid mindset had occurred in official attitudes to British businesses in the area.
This apparent rejection of the average British holiday maker is seen by some as a risky strategy but seems part of a general trend by the Valencian Autonomous Government to turn away from the British and their decreasing disposable incomes and subsequent spending power.
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