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
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
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
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing