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ttglive.com Costa del Azahar


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The 13th-century castle and old quarter are a major attraction in Peniscola


New zest for Orange coast


The Costa del Azahar or “Orange Blossom Coast” is relatively unknown in the UK but a new airport looks set to change that. Dave Richardson reports


pain’s newest airport stands gleam- ing but empty awaiting an opening date from the airports authority and completion of the roads that will whisk visitors to the Mediterranean in half an hour.


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The tarmac is marked out for the different types of aircraft Castellon hopes to attract. It is confident that by 2011 at least one no- frills airline will be flying there from the UK. At present, few people have heard of the Costa del Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast), which Castellon airport will open up to the international market for the first time.


Marketing support


The airport is roughly halfway between Valencia and Barcelona along the east coast, the main resorts of Peniscola and Benicassim being rather closer to Valencia. They are too far away from gateway airports to appeal to


tour operators currently, with a transfer time of over two hours from Alicante, All this will change some time this year when Castellon airport opens, and it prom- ises plenty of marketing support for airlines giving it a try.


Whether larger tour operators can be attracted is another ques- tion, as they have been pulling back capacity from mainland Spain for several years. Peniscola is the only resort with enough large hotels for big operators, but there are no familiar brands such as Sol. At present the Span- ish make up 90% of visitors. Unknown rather than undis- covered, development is on a much smaller scale here than in the Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol or Costa Brava.


Peniscola is the main attraction, not just for its excellent beach but for its interesting old town perched on a rock jutting out into the sea and 13th-century castle. Here you won’t find any of the British or German-style bars and fast food outlets that have destroyed the character of many Span- ish resorts. That is appreciated by visitors who want to feel they are in Spain rather than Southend-on-Med, but if the airport is successful then developers will move in. The old town of Peniscola can get very crowded in summer, but at other times it’s a delight to stroll around the ancient walls that still bear the signs of pirate attacks.


Independent luxury


Benicassim aims for upmarket, independent holidays. More contemporary than Peniscola, it has small luxury hotels including El Palasiet, with a spa. The Costa del Azahar is only part of the attraction of this region. Inland there are mountains, plus the Roman remains of Sagunto, the extensive caves of Vall d’Uixo and ancient town of Morella.


Levant Morella city


Castellon airport is also targeting operators specialising in walking and golf, as well as beach holidays. ■ comunitatvalenciana.com


11.06.2010 43


World Pictures


Valencia Region Tourist Board


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