Jul 27 2011
By Lisa Adams
beach in costa del sol, spain
The Spanish Costas are becoming popular with Scots holidaymakers once more
SCOTS holidaymakers have fallen back in love with Spain, latest figures reveal. They’re ditching plans to stay at home and grabbing bargains to popular hotspots such as the Spanish Costas and the Balearics.
Last month, 1.5million Brits travelled to Spain, up by 80,000 on June 2010, according to the Spanish ministry for tourism.
And 5.9million Brits visited the country in the first six months of 2011- up 9.6 per cent from last year.
It’s a big boost for Spain as the weak pound and the recession had slashed the number of holidaymakers heading to the traditional sunspots by up to 20 per cent since summer 2008.
Now experts say price rises in Turkey and unrest in rival getaway destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia and Greece are giving tourists the push to return to sunny Spain.
Bill Munro, director of Barrhead Travel, said Spain is putting other holiday destinations at home and abroad in the shade this summer.
He said: “Spain’s enjoying a well deserved resurgence in popularity this year thanks to competitive prices in its resorts and a variety of entertainment options that appeal to families.
“But Scots have always had a love affair with Spain. They were pushed towards countries like Turkey by price.
“Turkey became the number one favourite as people were warned to stay away from the eurozone. People went to Turkey as the prices were so cheap.
“Now, the hoteliers in Turkey have cottoned on to this and put their prices up. In Spain, the prices have come tumbling down.
“Living costs have come down too. Spain is in worse trouble than Britain in terms of recession, with a huge number of unsold properties.
“There’s lots of brand new holiday homes that have never been sold.
“As a result, prices in Spain have come down substantially and gone up elsewhere.
“The infrastructure, the hotels and facilities in Spain are much superior to Turkey, so Scots are flooding back.
“There has also been a dramatic reduction in prices in bars and restaurants, making your pound go further.”
Today, a quarter of all visitors to Spain come from the UK, more than any other nation, followed by Germany, France and Italy.
Spanish tourism minister Miguel Sebastian said the new figures “confirm the positive evolution of Spanish tourism”.
And Antonio Bernabe, the director of the Spanish tourist board, said the figures were down to “the magnificent position Spain has as a safe destination, with magnificent infrastructure and high-quality, diverse offerings.”
Cheap and quick charter flights direct from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are a top reason why Scots are choosing to jet off to Spain over other destinations.
Last month, at Glasgow airport 262 charter flights a week jetted to the land of sun, sea and sangria.
Munro added: “For package holidays you just can’t beat the transport from Scotland to Spain.
“It’s cheap, direct and quick.
Palma is just two and a bit hours flight away from Scotland. In the summer, people don’t want to fly too far but they do want sun. Spain gives them both.
“That’s why the country is more popular than France for Scots. It’s much harder to fly direct to France because there’s not the same demand.
“Next to Germany, France has one of the most robust economies in Europe so things tend to be more expensive.”
Guaranteed sunshine, with average temperatures in July hitting 29C means Scots are flooding back to the Costas.
The security of holidaymakers knowing Spain as a home away from home is also a factor.
Munro went on: “Spain has had 40 years of building up resorts that suit the Brits.
“You can enjoy fish and chips and a pint of ale in Spain if that’s what you want. A holiday in the UK is far more expensive than a break in Spain.
“We sell a lot of UK holidays and it appears cheap on the face of it. But when you add up the costs of living, it can be pricier.
“It’s still much cheaper to go abroad generally. Many holidays to Spain are all-inclusive, which is very attractive for holidaymakers.
“If it’s hot, there’s a beach and it’s all-inclusive, holidaymakers are happy. But Spain also has castles and museums. There’s so much to see and do if you don’t want to lie on the beach all day.
“It’s a tried and tested formula that ensures holidays to the country are ones to remember, whether you prefer sunshine and sangria or a taste of the real Spain.”