After 50 years, the sun sets on Costa Brava as tour operators pull out

Fifty years after British tourists first roasted themselves under the clear blue skies of the Costa Brava, the love affair with this stretch of the Spanish coastline may be over.

First Choice, one of Britain's leading package tour operators, confirmed yesterday that it is pulling out of the region, claiming it is too old-fashioned.

"Unlike other package holiday destinations in Spain that have reinvented themselves and provided extra activities for our customers, the Costa Brava has not updated itself," Tim Williamson, the product director at First Choice, said.

The company will no longer be offering destinations such as Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar and Blanes, which were once a mainstay of package deals, in its brochure for next year.

Other operators are likely to follow. Cosmos said it was "reviewing" whether to include the Costa Brava in its 2005 brochure and My Travel and Thomas Cook also indicated they would be reassessing the region.

"The demand for bucket-and-spade holidays will always be there, but things have moved too fast for the Costa Brava," said Roger Bray, co-author of Flight to the Sun, a history of package holidays.

The Costa Brava has been a mainstay of family-holidays in the sun for millions of Britons since 1954 when Vladimir Raitz, co-founder of the Horizon holiday group, established the first package tours.

As well as introducing ordinary Britons to the joys of foreign travel and sunshine, he also helped open up a European country that had been closed to outsiders since Franco took power 15 years earlier.

But while a trip to Spain was once exotic, the numerous high-rise hotels, English breakfasts and kiss-me-quick culture have tarnished the reputation of the Spanish seaside break.

Ironically for a region that helped kick-start a revolution in mass international tourism and jet travel, the Costa Brava is also falling victim to the surfeit of cheap flights to nearby Spanish towns such as Gerona. Together with a strong euro, this has led tour operators to question the value for money a Costa Brava holiday provides.

There is also a belief that a new generation of Britons who take cheap international travel for granted are looking for more adventurous holidays.

The Costa Brava region, north of Barcelona on the Mediterranean coast, is still popular with British tourists, but more so with those who book their own flights and accommodation.

Manuel Butler, of the Spanish Tourist Office in London, said: "I was there at a seminar last month and everyone was worried about this. But I think they are now taking the first steps to put everything right and I am confident they will do so."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Day In a Page

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue