British tourists face fines of nearly £250 for failing to cover up their bikinis or bare chests on the streets of a popular Spanish seaside resort.

The resort of Salou on the Costa Daurada, south of Barcelona, has become the first place in Spain to ban shirtless and bikini-clad tourists in a bid to clean up its reputation, which has been badly damaged after becoming a haven for drunken British students.

In a set of new by-laws passed by the town council those who flout the ban could be fined between €100 (£81) and €300 (£245).

Those caught drinking alcohol on the streets or having sex on the beach could also be prosecuted and beachwear will be banned from all but beachfront bars and restaurants.

"We want to ensure that Salou has a good image," said the mayor, Pere Granados, explaining the move.

Earlier this year locals complained about the drunken behaviour of British students who flocked to the resort for the Easter holidays.

More than 5,000 British students aged between 18 and 23 crowded into the town 70 miles south of Barcelona to attend "Saloufest" an annual party organised by university sports clubs.

Residents complained of "streets running with vomit" after scantily clad students spent their nights binge drinking and indulging in "anti-social behaviour".

Paramedics treated at least a dozen tourists for alcohol induced illnesses and several arrests were made, including one student accused of raping another.

The event caused an "anti-British backlash" that pitted Spanish families taking an Easter break by the sea with businesses reliant on tourism to survive.

The bikini ban signals a growing unease in Spain against those sunburnt northern European tourists who offend the local population by walking in the streets, dining in restaurants and even doing their shopping in little more than beachwear.