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