The blonde girl on the poster stares out at a beautiful blue sea, hat in her hand and the delicate sand of the Costa Brava between her toes.
Or that is what the latest advertising campaign by the tourist board claims. However, it has now been discovered that the idyllic photograph promoting Spain’s northeast Mediterranean coast was actually taken in the Bahamas in the Caribbean.
The unrepentant tourist board admitted the picture came from a series shot on a beach halfway across the world, but denied this was cheating.
It even conceded that the picture, sold by Getty Images picture agency, was digitally altered to dull the shiny yellow sand and make it look more like one of the greyer beaches of the real Costa Brava.
But it refused to accept that the resulting advertisement, with its unintentionally ironic slogan, “Where does the Costa Brava start?” was a lie.
Dolors Batalle, the director of the Costa Brava Girona tourism board, said it had simply failed to find pictures “of sufficient quality” of the real Costa Brava in order to illustrate its “conceptual” campaign.
“Our intention is not to lie, nor to suggest that the Bahamas are really better than the Costa Brava,” she told local media.
She claimed that no one ought to feel cheated if they traveled to the Costa Brava and found it did not look like the place in the photograph. It would be “a wicked interpretation” to suggest that the board was trying to hide the truth about the Costa Brava, she said.
The Costa Brava campaign also contains a second mystery.
An accompanying photograph is meant to show a mountaineer tramping up through the brilliant white snow of the nearby Pyrenees.
Together, the blurb claims, the photographs show people enjoying the same pure water. The “spray of the waves” and the “snow of the mountains” is meant to come from the same source.
But is the second photograph, which looks as though it could have been taken in Nepal, really of the Pyrenees?
Locals have their doubts. Batalle has admitted that she too is not sure.