History of the Costa del Sol
When was the Costa del Sol first recognised as a tourist destination? It's difficult to say precisely, because you would have to go as far back as the Phoenician period or the Romans.... The first tourists in the real sense of the word were the romantic travelers of the XVIII and XIX century. The good climate and the famous wines of Málaga and the trading associated with them helped to attract visitors to the region many visitors to the region.
By the end of the XIX century, people were already starting to arrive in large numbers for the winter season, the fair in August and the celebration of the Semana Santa, thanks to the improvement in transport links by land and sea.
The tourist 'boom' did not actually occur until the end of the 50s and the beginning of the 60s, when large groups of people started to go religiously each year to Torremolinos. 1959 is the key date in the history of tourism in the Costa del Sol. This is the year in which they opened the first luxury hotel "Pez Espada", shortly afterwards famous people started to arrive... Frank Sinatra, Orson Wells, Julio Iglesias,... Just one decade later the district of Málaga had 32 hotels and 10,000 available vacancies. The beach holiday was invented and the Costa del Sol was born.
As the area grew successful, tourism increased massively (also because the destination appeared in many popular films) and suddenly everybody wanted to go to the Costa del Sol to get their picture taken on the beach or on the famous street of San Miguel. This same phenomenon was also happening to the nearby Benalmádena (for many people this area was only an extension of Torremolinos and was already known worldwide); Fuengirola (popular with Spanish tourists); Mijas (where people were starting to buy second homes) and many other locations in the east of the Costa del Sol.
The history of tourism in the Costa del Sol is closely linked to the development of Torremolinos. Tourism exploded in the Costa del Sol after the opening of the airport "El Rompedizo" and the introduction of the charter flight. The person responsible for this invasion was considered to be George Langworthy, popularly known as "El Inglés" who at the end of the century, bought a property called "Castillo de Santa Clara", where both he and his wife lived happily for many years until she died. After this point he started to spend all his fortune helping the poor in the area, in particular the fishermen of La Carihuela. Later, the "Castillo de Santa Clara" was converted into a residence for foreigners. Carlota Alessandry Tettamanzy, who at the time was a considerable landowner in la Carihuela, also decided to convert one of her farmhouses into a guesthouse that was later called Parador de Montemar... It had seven bedrooms and did so well that in the 1940s they opened the Hotel La Roca.
Then the new 'boom' area became Marbella... There was a time that the only villa belonging to a famous person in the city was that of the flamenco artist Lola Flores, a few years later the area was inundated with numerous famous people. Sometimes they would buy summer residences or they would just come to spend their holidays here. The forerunners of these famous people were Norberto Goizueta, José Luque and Alfonso de Hohenlohe the individual who helped to establish the "Marbella Club". Later on James Stewart, Rock hudson, Gina Lollobrigada, Ringo Starr, Onassis and María Callas, the Duke of Windsor, Thyssen, Bismarck, Rostchild, the Kennedys and Sheiks from Arabia were regular visitors to this exclusive hotel.
At the time Puerto Banús, designed by José Meliá, was considered the centre of high-class international tourism. Meanwhile, The Costa del Sol was busy developing secondary facilities: golf courses, the Tívoli fairground, the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones in Torremolinos, aquatic parks and the valuable cultural and rural tourism of the Serranía de Ronda and La Axarquía.
There are a number of elements that have contributed to the success of the Costa del Sol as the primary tourist destination in Spain and the place with highest density of golf courses in Europe. Last year there were over 8,200,000 visitors to the Costa del Sol.