The man who put the Costa del Sol in Almeria

 Rodolfo  Lussnigg did his best to advertise Almeria to foreign tourists in the 1920s.
Rodolfo Lussnigg did his best to advertise Almeria to foreign tourists in the 1920s.

  • The Austrian diplomat and businessman Rodolfo Lussnigg first put the words Costa and Sol together to advertise the most eastern province of Andalucía in the 1920s

Today Spain is doing its best to bring back tourists from abroad. In the 1920s, the tourism businessman Rodolfo Lussnigg was doing the same. He tried to attract foreigners to the Mediterranean coast of Andalucía by using the year-round sunshine as a magnet for people from the north of Europe who 'suffered' from the lack of sunny days and clear blue skies.

In 1928 Rodolfo Lussnigg first named the picturesque Mediterranean coast the Costa del Sol, followed by the slogan "Almería, the city where the sun spends the winter".

He began by using the term to promote Almeria, the province he had chosen to make his home, although later the brand Costa del Sol was adopted by the Malaga coastline.

Rodolfo Lussnigg's hometown was Vienna, where the future promoter of Andalusian tourism was born on 6 July 1876. In Austria he studied Tourism Management and there he started his career. Rodolfo Lussnigg took various hospitality positions abroad - in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Egypt, France, Belgium, Switzerland and England. Before moving to Spain in 1906, he worked as director of the Braganza hotel in Lisbon.

The entrepreneur first focused on Spain in collaboration with the Franco-Spanish Society of Large Hotels. In Alicante he was responsible for the management of the Reina Victoria hotel. At the same time he dedicated himself to building, furnishing and opening the Reina Victoria hotel in El Escorial. He also worked on the installation and opening of the La Parisina restaurant in the Moncloa neighbourhood of the Spanish capital.

Much later his name was also related to the biggest gastronomy project - the first international cocktail contest in Madrid - which he organised for representatives from Europe and Egypt.

In the end, he bought the Simón hotel in Almeria and settled there. He liked the coast of Almeria and did his best to make foreign tourists come and enjoy the picturesque landscapes.

He would mention his beloved Almeria at any opportunity and promoted it as the most attractive place in Spain where the sun shines almost 300 days a year. That's why, when Rodolfo realised that the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville and the International Exposition in Barcelona in 1929 could be a unique opportunity to spread the name of Almeria worldwide, he tried to mention the Almeria coast in all his interviews, presenting it as the sunniest place in Europe and each time exclaiming that it was the Costa del Sol.

Rodolfo was sure that it could work as well as similar brands in neighbouring countries had done before. By that time, there had been two centres of international tourist attention - the French Riviera and the Portuguese Riviera. The name Costa del Sol was first published in the Almeria newspaper La Crónica Meridional on 16 February 1928.

Rodolfo kept on spreading the name, highlighting the city of Almeria, where according to his words, "the sun spends the winter". He promoted the brand Costa del Sol generously. The businessman paid for PR and published brochures in English.

Though that Costa del Sol was not directly associated with Malaga coast, personally Rodolfo had connections with the province. In 1907 the Austrian businessman met María Teresa Arjona from Antequera and fell in love. The wedding ceremony took place in the very centre of Malaga - in the church of San Juan.

They had two daughters, Resi and Concha, born in Almeria. Resi took over the family business, becoming chief executive in 1944. Resi Lussnigg was active in tourism until 1965 when the iconic Simón hotel in Almeria was sold.

Rodolfo Lussnigg died in Madrid in 1950. In 1966 he was posthumously awarded the medal Medalla al Mérito Turístico for developing tourism in Spain.