If geographic areas were attributed human characteristics, you might call the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, Spain "frienemies." Not that the inhabitants of the two regions are hostile toward one another. Actually, Spain is well-known the world over for its amicable residents and tourist-friendly hospitality.
It's more about the next-door neighbourly competition between the two sun-soaked regions to attract Spanish as well as international tourists to its sparkling beaches and exquisite restaurants.
It seems that both the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca have a longstanding tug-of-war going when it comes to tourist numbers. Each one claims, at various times, to have drawn a larger number of visitors to its region - The Costa Blanca recently published its numbers from July and August last summer, placing the number of visitors to the area at 600,000 during this two month period. That beat the Costa del Sol, at least for that part of the year.
Costa Blanca tourism also bragged that more than sixty per cent of her hotel beds had already been booked for the remainder of the low season, thanks in part to an influx of British tourists. However, it appears that the bulk of the tourist population in Costa Blanca are actually homegrown, coming from other parts of Spain to enjoy the sky blue waters of the Mediterranean Coast.
That isn't to say that the Costa del Sol is lagging. Data recently released from the Costa del Sol Tourism Observatory indicates that tourist spending over the past year increased by a notable six per cent, proving that the hospitality industry on the Costa del Sol is thriving.
The Costa del Sol hopes to keep its tourist trade alive and well and spur the tradition of competition with its coastal neighbour by creating a national symbol that will become synonymous with the region - much like Big Ben is to London, the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or the Statue of Liberty is to New York.
Currently, the Junta de Andalucia is leaning toward the idea of a similar icon and is in the process of inviting bids and design plans from several companies. It appears that the Costa del Sol may be looking for an attraction that will give it a permanent edge over Costa Blanca when it comes to tourist numbers.
Arguably, the Costa del Sol's tourist trade burgeons with or without a signature work of architecture. After all, the Costa del Sol already has the luxurious resort town of Marbella, which attracts the most elite and wealthiest of tourists from Spain and beyond. (Of course, the average tourist is welcome too, as long as he or she can spare the extra cash.) Thanks to a massive capital project spearheaded by a former Marbella mayor, the city received a major landscaping overhaul which added a more breathtaking element to its already gorgeous terrain.
Albeit expensive, Marbella is a town full of character. Its stately buildings, historical landmarks, eclectic shops and gourmet cuisine are well worth visiting, even if it's a once-in-a-lifetime event for those visiting from outside Europe.
The Costa Blanca is not without its distinctive land and attractions as well. Her world-class white-sand beaches (where the Costa Blanca gets its name) along the sea, its mountainous interior with its olde world villages and renowned citrus, almond, and date trees all add to its allure.
Like the Costa del Sol, the Costa Blanca also has its prominent tourist destination city: Benidorm. Whether its family fun you're after or you prefer to party without the children, Benidorm has it all - exciting theme parks, class-act shows, cultural activities, wildlife adventures, of course, shopping.
Perhaps in the end the only way to determine which of the two is the hottest destination is for vacationers to try them both. No doubt, tourists who do will see why these sunny coastal neighbors are forever vying to outdo one another for a piece of the Spanish tourism industry.
Tribune Properties produce a series of guides for Spain, including the island of Lanzarote