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Murcia 'is fastest growing region in Spain'

Those taking flights to Murcia will no doubt be pleased to know that they are travelling to the fastest growing region in Spain.

According to the country's National Statistics Institute, the Costa Calida has seen as growth of 3.99 per cent in its gross domestic product (GDP) since 2000 - putting it at the fore of the fastest growing regions in the country, Euro Residentes reports.

The news provider reports that Andalucia and Madrid followed Murcia in the list of regions exhibiting the speediest growth, having seen a respective 3.

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Spain offers "versatile" way of life

Those traveling to Spain may do so in order to seek peace and quiet or to enjoy the company of fellow Britons, it has been suggested.

According to James Dearsley, of Atlas International Spain, is a "versatile" country which offers those who travel there the "opportunity to get into the Spanish way of life".

Mr Dearsley added that some Britons took flights to Spain to be in the company of fellow Brits who speak English or instead to mix with a "distinctly" Spanish community.

In terms of buying property in Spain, Mr Dearsley added: "Brits will always like the properties which they can possibly rent out as well, perhaps near a beach or near a golf course.

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Spanish holiday spots 'opened up by rail'

Top Spanish holiday spots are likely to become even more popular in the near future as access to them is opened up by new rail links.

According to Rail Europe, there will soon be new high-speed rail links between London and Spain which will offer a "realistic" alternative to air travel to destinations in the country.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the company added that the high-speed rail network in Europe is "improving and increasing" all the time.

"There's also going to be a high-speed line running from Paris all the way down to Madrid and Barcelona… That will make it really feasible to do [the journey] in a day," the representative from Rail Europe added.

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Alicante the pick for overseas visitors

Alicante is becoming an increasingly popular destination with UK travellers looking for a luxury Spanish holiday and a large percentage of property in the province is now owned by foreigners.

With an interesting mix of nationalities, a large English-speaking population, year round sunshine and pretty towns and villages, Alicante is fast becoming one of Spain's top vacation spots.

Alicante has miles of sandy beaches, Mediterranean sunshine, links to the Balearic Islands and Algeria, an international airport, castles and a rich maritime history, making it an ideal destination for travellers of all ages.

Located in the south east of Spain, Alicante is a dry, mountainous province with a long coastline that includes the famous Costa Blanca, some excellent vineyards, pretty countryside and busy tourist centres.

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High-speed trainline opened

A high-speed trainline that will take passengers between capital city Madrid and Murcia has been officially opened by the Spanish prime minister.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero himself tried the new vehicle, with authorities hopeful that the train will be used by people that are residents of or visitors to the capital to get to the beach.

The AVE high-speed train had a journey time of a little over two hours, with a short stop included, suggesting it is the perfect way for both residents and those enjoying a luxury Spanish holiday to get to Murcia and the beach.

According to Typically Spanish, the train that the prime minister was aboard can travel at speeds of up to 350 km/h, with usual daily service set to comprise of 11 trips either way.

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Spaniards gear up for Christmas lottery

If you intend to be in Spain on December 22nd make sure you buy a lottery ticket, for the traditional yuletide lottery.

El Gordo or the Spanish Christmas Lottery has taken place annually since the 1800s and if measured by the total prize payout, is the biggest lottery in the world.

In 2006, the winning ticket-holder received €3 million (£2.1 million).

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Spanish Christmas traditions

It has been reported that a struggle between traditional Spanish customs and more contemporary celebrations is taking place this Christmas.

Traditionally, Earthtimes reports, Spaniards exchange gifts on January 6th following processions celebrating the Three Kings - white-bearded Melchor, red-haired Gaspar and black Baltasar.

The online newspaper claims that the notion of Father Christmas - or Papa Noel - was first popularised in the country during the 1950s courtesy of US soldiers stationed in Spain.

"The kings are an example of multi-racialism, while Father Christmas is a product of consumerism," the publication reported one person as saying.

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Rise in Spanish tourist numbers reported

Spanish holidays look to be more popular than ever, after it was reported that tourist numbers were up for the country in November.

AFX News reports that according to Thomson Financial, the number of tourists arriving in Spain increased by five per cent last month compared to the same period in 2006.

The figures, from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, showed that numbers reached 3.3 million.

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Seasonal spirit hits Spain

As the build up to Christmas day gathers pace, holidaymakers spending Christmas in Spain can look forward to a longer period of festivities, it is reported.

Sur in English notes that in Spain, the Christmas season lasts longer than the English period - with children in Spain receiving presents on the evening of January 5th.

Coming up in the Costa de la Luz, the newspaper for southern Spain reports that a series of Christmas concerts will be taking place.

Those enjoying Spanish holidays in the region this month can look forward to an "Extraordinary Christmas Concert" in Cadiz at the Gran Teatro Falla on December 22nd, while on December 28th, a Christmas concert with the Camerata Manuel de Falla will be held at the Moderno Theatre in Chiclana.

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Alicante 'will attract majority of winter sunshine travellers'

Flights to Alicante look set to be in high demand this December as Brits head to East Midlands Airport in their droves.

According to the airport, December 21st will be its busiest day this month as more than 8,800 passengers look to travel abroad for warmer Christmas weather.

On Christmas day the airline is even running a number of departures and arrivals to the Spanish city of Alicante,

"Christmas and New Year has always been a popular time of the year to escape the cold winter weather and see friends and family. The winter flight programme is full of great winter sun destinations," commented airport managing director Penny Coates.

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