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Spain: Still Attracting the Masses

May 30, 2014 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

It seems as if, no matter what, the attraction of Spain to the British tourist is apparently unbreakable. Just as people were making a beeline for the Spanish warm weather all those years ago, people are still heading there for cheap holidays.

Higher wages, longer holiday allocations by employers and the willingness to be able to travel for fun which, by and large, had never been available to older generations, so it remains for so many people into the 21st century. Spain holidays still seem to be the epitome of the perfect summer getaway.

The first package holidaymakers seemed impossibly glamorous at the time of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The excitement of flying, the unheard of weather, access to a swimming pool and then coming home and showing off the tan were markers of a period of huge social change.Untitled

Of course it wasn’t easy. The early holidaymaking Brits very often made for difficult tourists — unable to adjust to the shock of strange food, going down with a dodgy tummy; “don’t drink the water” became a mantra. But they, and the Spanish, adapted. Entrepreneurial Brits spotted that this market might be worth something and set up in areas where the holidaymakers went, offering English bars serving fish and chips, English breakfast, English beer and (later) English TV. Whole areas of the Costas became British enclaves and towns such as Benidorm and Torremolinos became places where the British could go on holiday but not have to frighten themselves with unnerving cultural shocks.

For many, Spain has become more than ‘just like home’ — it’s home as so many have bought retirement homes in the sun. More have second homes for long weekends away when the weather at home has turned dank and depressing, as well as an annual break. When Spain joined the Euro, there were fears that the traditional cut-price goods, especially beer and cigarettes, would drive people elsewhere, but it didn’t. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges in recent years has been the collapse of Spanish property prices. Whole towns have been built which lie abandoned, and indeed there are brand-new airports which may see one flight in three months.

But this has hasn’t had much of an impact on tourism into Spain. 2013 broke records again as 60.6 million people decided, once more, to go there. The Spanish attitude to life is that it should be celebrated, loudly if possible. The food, the people who don’t even think of going out until many people in Britain are considering turning in and the siesta culture — everything about Spain is about the joy of being alive and has a “don’t worry, be happy” attitude to it.

Spain offers something different, depending on what you want. There’s the tradition of the Costas and island destinations offering sand, sea, sun and something else you fancy. Inland are the wine growing regions like Rioja who make their world famous product, the historic and beautiful cities. Spain was among the first countries to open itself up to tourism and, despite all the troubles it has suffered, the country continues to do so. It’s still among the very best places to go.

Image by Juan Antonio Capó Alonso used under creative commons license.

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