MAINSTREAM package trips to Spain inevitably seem to take you to the most built-up, rammed-full beaches, so infrequent visitors could be forgiven for believing the country's coasts are synonymous with mass tourism,...
Spain is world's top country for lone travellers, says survey
SPAIN has been voted the world's number one destination for lone travellers, according to the US News & World Report – in fact, it earns a 10 out of 10 for its 'friendliness'.
Ahead of Italy, in second place and New Zealand in third, Spain tops an annual list which has the United Arab Emirates at 64 – and reasons to travel there are abundant, the survey shows.
Although Spanish beaches are the country's best-known tourism magnet, these are not even mentioned on the list, which shows just how much else Spain has to offer holidaymakers if it has earnt the top spot.
For example, its cultural attractions win a 9.8 out of 10 and its rich history 9.6 out of 10, whilst the cuisine – arguably among the select few countries on earth where traditional dishes are better at home than abroad – gets a 9.7 out of 10; 'bland' or 'unimaginative' are two adjectives which could never be used to describe food anywhere in Spain, even taking into account the vastly-diverse varieties from region to region.
Anecdotal evidence shows Spain is also a very safe country for lone female travellers; it is common for women to walk home across towns late at night on their own without qualms, and also for homosexual travellers, either alone or in couples, since Spain is among the most accepting of and open to diversity and was only the fourth country on earth to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption, in 2005, having just been pipped at the post by Canada and a few years behind The Netherlands and Belgium.
From fourth to 10th, in order, the best countries for lone holidaymakers – in terms of safety, attractions, friendliness, food, history and all other ingredients that make up a great trip – are Greece, Australia, Portugal, Brazil, the Republic of Ireland, Thailand, and The Netherlands.
Canada comes 12th, France 17th, and the UK 24th.
The USA is 28th, Turkey 32nd and Germany 37th, just ahead of Malaysia at 38.
According to the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies (CEAV), a total of eight million people living in Spain go on holiday alone, either regularly, or have done so at least once in recent years.
And these days, holidaying solo is no longer the prerogative of the single or friendless: of those eight million, nearly 20% of the population, a total of 30% of lone travellers are in a relationship.
In most cases, however, Spanish travel agencies offer holidays that do not just stick to one destination in a given country: 'circuit tours' are the norm, where a traveller gets to see most of the highlights of a country within one to two-and-a-half weeks under a guide in each area.
Where this happens, groups with a language in common will normally spend most of the day together on guided visits, meaning travelling alone does not have to be 'lonely': tourists could be with each other almost daily for a fortnight, meaning they become friends and often stay in touch after their trip.
Destinations offered by Spanish travel agencies are very diverse, with practically the whole planet – other than countries which are known to be unsafe – available on 'circuit tour' or single-destination 'free-time' package holidays, for prices that do not vary hugely.
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