May I offer insight and solution to many of the Costas’ restaurateurs and management of the regions’ watering holes? We are living in pretty depressing times but don’t be too quick to blame the recession. You’re the problem.

Of course you got by when the times were good; who couldn’t? Easy pickings was what attracted tourists and bar-entrepreneurs here in the first place. They didn’t have to try; service was optional.

Pub in SpainSince things went pear-shaped all I hear is the credit crunch and exchange rate mantra. Then why is it that in English towns and cities punters queue at bars where a pint is 3.30€ and similar for a bottle of Bud?

Blackpool is not cheap but tourism is up by 20 percent. It costs a family more to holiday in Pontin’s holiday camps than it does in the Costas yet bookings are up by 22%.

BOUNCING BARS VERSUS BOUNCING BRAS

York, Wrexham, Doncaster, Manchester; hundreds of bars throughout England shoe horn them in at weekends. The restaurants aren’t doing too badly either. Be prepared to wait up to an hour to be seated at La Tasca Spanish tapas restaurants.

How can empty venues on the Costas’ blame the recession when elsewhere they do well despite it? Traditionally liquor sales rise during recessions.

Spain is too expensive now? Think again; the Costas are losing out to resorts where tourists get less for their money. If the bars in recession-hit North West England are bouncing imagine what they would do with Costa weather!

REAL ENTERTAINMENT

Irish Pub in Barcelona, SpainOne of the most popular pubs ever was The Atlantic. Heaving most nights it could be difficult to get served yet it was a dingy dock road pub; the nearest dwelling a mile away. People were drawn to it because true artistes, the John Cordwell Banjo and similar played there.

The world famous Cavern in Mathew Street is a warehouse cellar yet visitors from across the world still queue to get in. Nondescript pubs and clubs elsewhere aren’t far behind when it came to needing bank staff to count the day’s takings.

Cream! It began life in a shed in a city’s back street. Soon there were special train excursions filled with young people eager to soak up the vibrant nightlife. The annual Mathew Street Music Festival is bigger than the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

AND THE MAGIC WORD?

What was the magic word? Entertainment! We are not talking karaoke. We are not talking tribute bands so pathetic they should be booked by Trading Standards officers rather than bar owners. The only tribute acts that packed them in were the ones that were actually better than the originals.

It wasn’t the sixties icons either: They come to the Costas because they can’t get bookings in England. Fund raising choirs? We have enjoyed as much of those as we can stand.

It is similar elsewhere. If I use Liverpool as an example it is simply because I lived and breathed its entertainment scene since my sister’s best friend, Anita Cochrane was dating, and carrying, Paul McCartney’s love-child.

LAP UP A SLAP-UP

Drinks bar in SpainMy family’s group played at the Cavern; even today I am privileged to be well acquainted with the Mersey Sound greats including Gary Potter, Earl Preston, John Cordwell, Mickey Finn, Cy Tucker.

England’s entertainment scene evolved to meet the demands of a more discerning clientele. Today’s smart set want stylish piano bars, bistros and wine bars that ooze flair; nightspots where trackies and trainers are disdained.

High spending quality visitors are attracted to real entertainers. They lap up a slap-up and the word quickly gets round. If your pub is packed then thank the true professionals who know a piano keyboard from a PC keyboard. Today’s tourists are still travelling and spending their money but the Costas’ 1960s holiday camp ethos simply won’t do anymore.

Images by bachmont, maveric2003 and scaredykat under Creative Commons.

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