The History of British Tourism on the Costa Blanca

 British Tourism Costa Blanca

The Costa Blanca, the eastern seaboard of Spain is made up of around 120 miles of soft, sandy beaches with the added bonus of crystal blue skies and the warm tempting Mediterranean Sea, so you can imagine the reason why this would appeal to many British tourists coming from a cold and wet country.

There is a whole range of places both inland and on the coast making the Costa Blanca one of Europe’s top summer destinations.

There is a depth and diversity to the area which doesn’t end at beautiful beaches, there are traditional towns such as Denia and much, much more.

Contrary to popular belief the British have had a strong presence in Spain for centuries mainly for economic reasons. Many of the country’s railways were built by British engineers in the 19th Century, along with many mines in both Asturias in the north and the huge Rio Tinto open cast mines in Andalusia. The railway which goes from Algeciras next to Gibraltar, all the way to the gorgeous hillside town of Ronda and beyond is a prime example. They were built by the British for officers in Gibraltar to escape the hot summer heat.

The mass tourism and package holidays only started making an appearance in the late 1950’s.

Going back to the Costa Blanca, the British also had a strong industrial presence for many centuries. The narrow-gauge tram railway than runs from Alicante, along the coast all the way up to Denia, was largely built by the British. It helped serve the various quarries in the area and the transportation of various fruits grown in the region. These were taken to ports such as Denia and shipped to the UK.

Spain was a very glam and exciting destination for the wealthy foreign traveller. This is probably best seen in many of the books by Ernest Hemingway amongst other luminaries.

The typical package tours to Spain were started around 1957 by British European Airways, who began flights to Valencia and the name “Costa Blanca” was created by the travel companies to help promote tourism. Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical etc were also created.

Who would be able to resist the tempting offer of cheap food and drink, guaranteed sun and lovely beaches.

By the onset of the 1960’s regular charter flights for package deals were being offered by Euravia, operating out of Luton and Manchester airports, providing affordable first trips out of the UK for many people. However, the range of holiday options were limited and were often the subject of criticism.

The 1970’s saw a decline in tourism to Spain where visitors’ numbers fell for quite a while. Tour operator Court Line went bust on the 15th August 1974, stranding a massive 50,000 people abroad and a further 100,000 losing their holiday deposits.

One way of building Spain’s finances was to invest in mass tourism again on a large scale. This came after the death of the dictator General Franco. This saw massive expansion of hotel buildings. This is displayed in resorts such as Benidorm especially.

These days tourism still accounts for a huge percentage of Spain’s national income. Each year several million embark on a holiday in the sun from all over Europe.

Package deals are still available, but often tend to miss out on the culture of Spain. However now more people are discovering a different side to Spain, choosing to personalise their own holiday package.

Whatever type of holiday or visit to you make to Costa Blanca you won’t be disappointed which is why many people choose to put roots down here.

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