Spanish tourist regions are launching a major drive to offer British pensioners some winter sun because it is almost cheaper to go away on holiday than putting on the central heating in Britain.

“From what we’re seeing, people are realising that it’s cheaper to come here than to put the heating on at home,” said Miguel Ángel Sotillos, president of the Spanish federation of tourist apartments, told The Guardian.

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Tourism operators in Alicante in southern Spain and the Canary Islands are banking on “thermal tourism” to persuade northern Europeans faced with soaring bills to leave home and spend the winter in the sun. So far the Balearics has not joined the drive but this winter there will be plenty of hotels open even in the holiday resorts such as Palmanova.

For the plan to prove successful Mallorca hoteliers would have to offer special packages for long-term visitors.

For many thousands of British pensioners spent the winter in Mallorca hotels.