THE Costa del Sol could soon shed its reputation as a cheap package holiday destination.

 

The local tourism board has launched a plan to market the coast as a luxury brand.

This is because this market has bucked global trends by showing steady growth over recent years, according to Costa del Sol Tourism Board President, Elias Bendodo.

“We know the economic crisis is very difficult, but we have also proved tourism appears to be withstanding the effects of this global recession,” Bendodo said. Spain’s luxury market turned over €4.5 billion last year, and 5-star hotels saw the number of overnight stays rise by 20 per cent during this period, official estimates show.

The promotion has been named ‘Costa del Sol Elite Collection’ in the hope for potential big spenders to associate the coast as a destination of exclusivity and an index of possibilities for those wanting to splash out.

Although open to all nationalities, Bendodo admitted the main focus it to promote the coast to Russians, Americans and Arabs. These three markets have been producing 50 per cent annual growth over recent years, he said.

‘Elite Collection’ will promote high end brands, a selection of local products and a range of premium services on offer. “We will go to find the luxury tourists where we know they are at”, Bendodo said, referring to the Arabian Travel Market, the ILTM in France or Travel Mart in Las Vegas (US), among other initiatives.

The target tourists is a professional person aged 30-40, “cultured, demanding and aware of the most exclusive destinations worldwide,” and demands personalised service.

On average this person will spend from €3,000 over a few days up to €50,000 for the holiday. The luxury market arrived to the Costa del Sol in Marbella in the 1950s when visionaries including Alfonso de Hohenloe developed a high society resort.

Then came the Saudi royals and the construction of Puerto Banus, becoming an internationally renowned playground for the rich and famous.

In the 1990s and early 2000s the luxury brand was tainted as the coast became associated with political corruption and organized crime.