Spain plugs sand and sun to win back Brits

The Spanish Tourist Office (STO) is to refocus its UK consumer PR on its traditional appeal of beaches and sunshine to fight back against emerging destinations.

The growing popularity among British tourists of countries such as Croatia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Egypt has encouraged the Spanish government to almost double its UK PR budget from £80,000 in 2004 to £140,000 for 2005, said STO UK director Ignaciao Vasallo.

‘We have been focusing too much on cultural tourism in the past few years,’ he said. ‘Sun and beach tourism is our core business and you can’t take it for granted, as we have done recently.’

STO has hired BGB Communications to handle its UK PR account, with a brief to highlight the advantages Spain offers over other sunny tourist spots in the consumer media. Spain offers travellers proximity, large airline capacity, superior health and legal security and better communications than other Mediterranean and Black Sea destinations, claimed Vasallo.

While the campaign will attempt to draw attention back to the delights of the Spanish coast, Vasallo said it would not turn its back on cultural PR and BGB will organise press trips for events such as the 400th anniversary celebrations of the publicationof Don Quixote De La Mancha.

STO will also hold press and trade presentations for specific regions such as the Balearics and the Basque country, as destinations become more accessible through an increase in airline routes.

Vasallo admitted that it is unlikely that there would be any improvement on the 16.1 million trips by British residents in 2003, explaining that the PR campaign is primarily concerned with defending Spain’s share of the UK tourism dollar in an increasingly competitive market.

The PR drive will back a £3.3m ad campaign scheduled for spring and autumn this year.

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