Reign of Spain – how we’ve dropped adventure for more familiar holiday

We can’t get enough of Spanish sun it seems

Amid all the turbulence, traditional is in and adventurous is out for Irish holiday-goers. Irish travellers love the old reliables – namely Iberia – and we can’t get enough of it.

The reign of Spain and prominence of Portugal is being augmented by big increases in numbers travelling from Ireland in the first five months of the year, more than 15pc in both cases.

Even if people want to go somewhere new and undiscovered, they cannot.

Airlines, websites and holidays companies have already decided their holidays for them, determining where they can access affordably by allocating the aircraft slots: 259 out of Dublin to Spain each week, 155 to France, 145 to Germany, 103 to Italy, and, significantly, 68 to Portugal, which, unlike the others, does not have big inbound traffic.

The 300km stretch of coast between Malaga and Alicante is sunbed central.

Malaga gets 41 flights a week from Dublin and is also served from both Belfast airports, Cork, Knock and Shannon.

The 280-passenger wide-bodied A330s that arrive in Dublin from the USA in the early morning are despatched on a sun run to Spain, packed with buckets and spades, before they return for another transatlantic excursion in the evening.

Alicante gets 19 flights a week from Dublin. Murcia, which is just 65km away, gets 13, Valencia three and Almeria two.

By comparison all of Greece gets 14 flights a week from Dublin (plus four from Belfast).

Croatia, marked as a happening place because it now has four destinations and a cluster of new flights, has 15 from Dublin (and two from Belfast). Sun-bed Turkey used to have six. Now it has just two.

Declining access is becoming is a bit of a drama for the 7,000 Irish who own summer properties in Turkey.

Malaga’s big competitor for summer flights is burgeoning Barcelona, which has overtaken the Balearics in recent years and now has 39 flights a week, plus eight to Reus and two to Gerona, where Ryanair resolutely sticks to their original “Barcelona” destination, despite the fact it is 90km to the north.

The Canary Islands get 50 flights a week. The island of Lanzarote will attract more tourists than Greece and Turkey put together. Palma in Majorca gets 15, feeding the peculiar phenomenon that is Ireland’s village away from Ireland, Santa Ponsa, where 3,500 Irish residents a week make it the equivalent of a thriving town in a rural county.

Move inland in Spain to Andalusia, to Seville (three flights a week), or north to Bilbao, whose season has just been extended, to Santander, Santiago or Ryanair’s new north-western route, Vigo if you want change.

On the boutique side of the business, fashion is more noticeable. Thailand is trendy, South Africa’s western cape, Seychelles and Maldives are honeymoon central where Mauritius has faded.

Last Friday a record 109,000 people passed through Dublin Airport.

Irish Independent

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