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The Spanish love affair continues

As the recession bites, consumers still want to enjoy their overseas summer holidays to which they have become accustomed but are looking at cheaper destinations and to take advantage of discounts being offered by tour operators such as Thomas Cook who are reported to be offering up to £150 off breaks to Spain as part of their 'Holiday Sale'.

And it's not just summer holiday makers who are viewing Spain as a destination of choice as more foreign nationals than ever before are choosing to get married in popular Spanish resorts such as the Costa del Sol. Reduced costs prompt many to make the choice but the climate, scenery and culture also prove real draws.

The Spanish government is well aware of the importance of the tourism sector to the country's overall economic health accounting for approximately 11% of jobs and GDP and so the additional €600 million which will be allocated in 2009 to help the tourism industry face global competition (in addition to the €400 million allocated and spent in 2008) is most welcome. The funds will be used to upgrade and modernize existing tourism facilities, infrastructure and accommodation and it is hoped that the projects will provide much needed employment, especially for those construction workers made redundant through the collapse of the property boom.

One area in particular is receiving significant investment – the Costa del Sol. Dubbed the 'Playground of Europe' this stretch of Mediterranean coastline has for nearly 50 years been a focal point for visitors seeking sun, sea and sand not to mention luxury living. And now over €5 million is being invested by the Spanish tourism authorities to upgrade 12 beaches stretching from Torremolinos to Casares, with new shower facilities and lighting being installed as well as promenade construction and maintenance.

Adding to the magic of Marbella, the social centre of the Costa del Sol, a new hotel called Lorcrimar is expected to open at Easter according to publicist (and Marbella home owner) Max Clifford's Times column and with its restaurant, Sisu Novelli, being run by the famous French chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli it's sure to be a real draw.

It's not however just good food and clean beaches that are attracting British attention to Spain. The enduring love affair with Spanish property and the dream to start a new life in the sun does not seem to be abating, even in light of the weakening of the pound.

Recent surveys such as the Jan – Feb 2009 statistics from overseas property portal support this with data revealing a 26% rise in searches for Spanish property compared to the same period last year. Julia Norton, Sales Manager of the new Champneys Marbella resort, comments,

"Having worked in the Spanish property market for nearly a decade I firmly believe that Spain is an enduring market and has something for everyone. Britons have an affinity for this country and many still see it as a viable alternative to recession hit Britain.

"I have seen however that buyers demands' are changing; with such a glut of property stock available buyers are becoming far more selective about what and where they purchase. They are looking not necessarily for cheap, entry level properties but for value for money, for well constructed, well located homes with potential for return on their investment."