Spanish tourism officials have admitted to passing off pictures of beaches taken in Australia and the Caribbean as their own to promote the Costa Brava Pyrenees on Spain’s northeast coast.
The latest gaffe from the Costa Brava Pyrenees Tourism authority comes as official figures released this week show that visitors to Spain fell 12 per cent in January. The Costa Brava advert was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the Spanish coastline at the recent Forum Gastronimic food fair. However it used a stock image owned by Getty Images of a beach in Perth, Western Australia. Logos on t-shirts of a father and son were then added and the sand was toned down to make it look Spanish.
The text says: “Congratulations Costa Brava on 100 Years. You really are great.”
Jaume Von Arend, an organiser of the Forum Gastronomic, told The Times: “We never realised that it was not of the Costa Brava.”
The embarrassment comes just weeks after the same tourist authority withdrew a photograph of a woman lying on a clear beach to promote Costa Brava which had been taken in the Bahamas.
A spokesman for Costa Brava Pyrenees Tourism said the publicity was supplied by a PR company called Be Brand. The company had worked on campaigns for the board since last year.
“We cannot be sure they did not know it was not the Costa Brava,” he added. Despite a two-year planning period for the food fair, publicity was completed “in a short space of time”.
After the story was publicised in the Spanish daily La Vanguardia readers wrote in demanding that those responsible resign.