Can Benidorm's overhaul lure back the sunseekers?
Updated 23:41, 23-Jun-2020
Rahul Pathak

Benidorm has become synonymous with low-cost beach holidays since it first boomed as a tourist resort in the 1960s. It's mix of sun, sea and sand at an affordable price that has been bringing in 16 million people a year – but the COVID-19 outbreak has changed that.

In March, lockdown measures closed all bars and hotels and holidaymakers deserted soon after.


Tourism rescue plan

With the state of alarm now lifted, Spain is eager to get its tourism sector up and running again. Last week, the Spanish government promised a $4.79 billion plan to help the struggling industry.

However, experts say that falls well short of what's needed for an industry that provides the country with 12 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Speaking to CGTN Europe, Benidorm's mayor, Antonio Perez, told us there is real concern.

"We are really worried, Benidorm is tourism, one of the biggest destinations on the planet, our economy is linked to tourism, we're worried but we know there's only one way – activate protocols to guarantee safety and make people feel safe. That the people coming can see it with their own eyes and share it with others," he said.

Nets have been put out on the Benidorm beach to keep people separated. CGTN

Nets have been put out on the Benidorm beach to keep people separated. CGTN


Keeping beaches and bars safe

Benidorm's authorities have taken drastic steps to reassure tourists their famous beaches are now safe from the coronavirus. The beaches have been divided into plots measuring four square meters, with special areas for the over-70s.

People have to reserve the plots online, and there are reduced opening hours. It's resulted in beach capacity going down from 40,000 to 26,0000.

Tourism's new normal also extends to the bars and hotels that stretch along Benidorm's coastline. 

Miguel Angel Perez, a waiter at the Cafeteria Manila, told CGTN Europe: "We are taking all necessary safety measures here. That includes the disinfection of people at the entrance, to place them at a fully disinfected table and when they leave we disinfect everything again.

"We have changed the menus – they are only used once, then they go to the trash. And the cutlery comes in individual bags so nobody touches them but the client."

There are hopes in Benidorm that by August the resort could look something like its old self, albeit with fewer visitors.


READ MORE: The New Normal: Hospitality

Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19