Benidorm shuts after a holiday season of six days

The quarantine of UK travellers to Spain has closed Benidorm. Some hotels only opened last Saturday, after the lock down. The UK announcement was made later that same day.

For every hotel booking in Benidorm this week there have been 131 cancellations. Tour operators have already switched holidaymakers to Turkey, Croatia and Greece, or given clients their money back.

I had to collect documents from the DHL office in Benidorm today, so I did a short detour and went for a bike ride along the English zone’s main strip. Normally at five o’clock in the afternoon, everyone has returned from the beach and holidaymakers are jostling for tables in the bars and food joints of the strip.

Why did people think that international travel in the middle of a pandemic was a good idea? For the moment, here in Benidorm, the British have gone. Far from Spain presenting a danger to them, our main worry here was that the British invasion could spark a new Covid-19 emergency here. For the moment there is a sense of relief. Those who own a hotel or work in tourism will be disappointed but many people who simply dread the next wave of the virus are very happy about the situation.

And it looks like this…

Friday 31 July update

Thanks for the comments from Maggie, Jabba and particularly Rowland, who together with wife Betty spent several months shielding, like me, with their daughter in law Cait bringing them – and me – our shopping. We do not want to see all our hard efforts to shield ourselves and protect the health service thrown away.

I want to update this post today because I notice that various British commercial people in Benidorm are still on YouTube etc. putting out the extraordinary irresponsible invitation to potential British customers to ignore all the official advice and just “Come to Benidorm because it’s safer than England!” How crass! Yes, it is safer until YOU get here!

The mainstream Spanish newspaper El País has a very instructive feature story today. It is about seven young people (aged 18-20) from Madrid who went on a week’s break together in Gandia, just up the coast from here. The story traces all the events involving these seven, who simply rented an apartment, observed all the mask-wearing rules and social distancing, and went to the same pub every night, and all except one went back to Madrid with Covid-19, having either caught it from each other, or the bartender, or another passenger on the bus, and then took that virus into their six different family homes (with some parents who are health workers too!) Now an immense contact-tracing operation is involved. THAT is why group travel and tourism is madness in a pandemic.

And I’ll finish with this simple message to the British bar owners and other commercial interests of Benidorm. There are thousands of jobs at risk in tourism and we all know the economic damage being done. That is not in dispute. But I have a good friend who is part of one of the main traditional hotel-owning families in Benidorm. He is also the Benidorm historian and has received honours from the town. But he does not want to see a rush of British holidaymakers into Benidorm in the continuing pandemic conditions.

His daughter is a medic and contracted Covid-19 at work earlier this year while bravely working when the rest of us were all in lockdown and hiding away in our homes. She ended up in emergency intensive care. We all prayed for her and were relieved when she survived. Yes, there is a huge economic loss in the Costa Blanca this year, but the responsible people are saying – and have been saying for some months – that mass tourism is something that needs complete reconsideration before opening up again.

While Benidorm became “Blackpool-in-the-Sun” in the late ‘fifties and early ‘sixties (and the name Costa Blanca actually came out of a British European Airways advertising campaign) very few people today believe that this type of marketing and travel can be sustained in the age of Covid-19.

So, can the British commercial interests in Benidorm immediately stop putting out advertising videos telling British customers to ignore an FCO warning! The travel insurance of any holidaymakers who ignore Foreign Office travel advice will be null and void and they will have no medical cover. They would put themselves and this community in danger. Get real and get on message!

Note: for the type of commercial video I refer to, see the slick example here which was put up on YouTube a few hours after I put up my video, which directly encourages British customers to ignore official advice and come to Benidorm. (I’m not enabling it to stream on this blog page, so you’ll need to cut and paste the link.) https://youtu.be/gtn3EnS7kFo


13 thoughts on “Benidorm shuts after a holiday season of six days

  1. Maggie, it’s no huge surprise that establishments existing for tourists and only tourists should be doing so poorly.

    I note with interest that the only place in the video with a decent number of clients was the only bar on that strip that looks more or less like a proper European/Spanish one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was far too premature to be opening up to tourism again. Thank goodness they have put a stop to it so quickly. And fortunely, as you noted recently, a lot of establishments in Benidorm were doing the sensible thing and remained closed, despite the advertising. Hopefully, you can all continue to return to some normality, at more sensible pace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes Alys, but we are still very much at risk from national tourism (Madrid, Alcoy, Albacete etc.) The real divide at the moment in Benidorm is between the lively front line (sea-front) Spanish tourism and the now dead-zone which was the British part of the resort (in the Rincón area and the parallel streets between there and the old town). The story I mentioned in El País today is very interesting because the seven young people involved all seemed to be taking precautions and were amazed that their cautious approach had led to six of them returning to Madrid from their beach holiday carrying the virus. For Spanish readers, here is the story: well worth reading.
    https://elpais.com/espana/madrid/2020-07-30/el-brote-que-no-se-comunico.html

    But with a city like Albacete being an easy half-day’s drive from Benidorm, and a place with a very poor record of Covid-19 containment, the big risk to Benidorm and this area now is from Spanish tourists. Of course that factor was just as much a high risk to UK tourists as well: so the decision on a blanket quarantine for UK travellers returning from Spain is entirely sensible!

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  4. National tourism is a problem. Several Madrilenos are in the village (they have Madrid registered cars!) and that is another reason that we do not go to the bars in the village. The house next to us is owned by a lovely French family and diffferent members of that family occupy the house normally during all of July and August as well as Easter and a few other dates. We have suggested to them that they do not come to Spain this year and so far have not. Very sensible. However, Brits that have come on their holidays to Spain in the past months really need their heads examined. We feel for all the businesses that are suffering huge financial loss through the decline in clientelle – but lives are more important than money. I think that we all appreciate that the situation is dire. Last year we booked four flights to the UK for the period between March and September 2020. All thankfully have been cancelled by easyJet – we would not have travelled in any case. Common sense and self preservation were our consideration!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, Frank, the danger presented by madrileños coming to the coast has already been seen in March. There was an exodus from Madrid to the coast when the lockdown was announced, mainly with madrileños who had second homes here. It was the cause of the second spike during the crisis (the first being in February here, with Spanish pensioners on holiday who also brought the virus from Madrid and other hotspots.) Travel, if done at all, needs to be done in isolation.

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  6. The YouTube video has now been viewed nearly two thousand times. (That is nothing like the biggest success on my YouTube channel: 19 Feb 2017, Morris and Aitana are now over TEN MILLION views!)

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  7. This was the view from in front of my place a couple of weeks before I started my current, interrupted, Camino (it’s my starting point and end point, it’s home to home) :

    https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/camino-photos/wp_20181231_17_03_41_pro-jpg.10542/full?d=1596211249

    It’s THE most beautiful point of view in this town, and an obvious tourist attraction.

    They’re putting up a block of luxury flats smack bang in the middle of it, so that the view will be privatised by whomever purchases the penthouse.

    There’s an example for you of not the Brits ruining the Costa Blanca, but the French ruining the French Riviera.

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  8. Gosh, Jabba, are you still contributing to that awful “Camino Forum” which is a money-making scam for Ivar Rekve? It’s a bit like the pilgrim version of the British Benidorm enthusiasts’ blogs, but with better spellings. 🙂

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  9. All of the internet is a money-making scam, Gareth — and even if you decline to profit from it personally, then others will do so in your place.

    But I do not contribute funds to that place.

    Like

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