Benidorm: British couple discuss decision to move to Spain
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Benidorm attracts British tourists seeking sun, sea and sand in their masses each year with 2019 data from Hostec showing 42.7 percent of the resort’s tourists came from the UK. However, it is also popular with British expats hoping to trade in the often grey skies of the UK for something a little toastier.
One such expat is Lauren Bates, who moved to the resort in 2017 with her partner to pursue a new career.
Having lived in Spain through the COVID-19 pandemic, she has seen the many changes it has brought about.
From stay at home orders and curfews to mandatory face masks and socially distanced beaches; residents of the resort have witnessed their daily lives transform.
Yet, with that has come the loss of tourism – something which is at the heart of Benidorm.
“The lack of tourism in the region has been tough for many sectors,” Lauren told Express.co.uk.
“Many bars and restaurants have really struggled to make ends meet, especially those geared towards tourists.
“It’s much quieter everywhere you go in the region and the lack of tourism is evident.
“There are many bars and restaurants who have been unable to weather the storm and have had to close up.
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“There are many entertainers who also have had to return home to the UK due to the lack of work.”
The sudden lack of tourism has sparked a change in opinion among locals, according to Lauren.
Particularly about tourists who, at times, may be perceived as rowdy.
Lauren said British tourists in Benidorm have, at times, “absolutely” been given a “bad representation” in the media and across the resort.
“There are times when British tourists get the blame for other tourists,” she said.
“I think, especially in Benidorm, there can sometimes be language barriers that cause friction between people.”
She continued: “In Benidorm, there is an area called ‘Zona Guiri’ which is the ‘British area’ where all the British nightclubs and bars are.’
“It is bound to be upsetting for locals to see an entire area of theirs ‘taken over’, however, I think since the pandemic there has been a major shift in this mindset.”
In fact, it seems tourists are now sorely missed by locals.
“Many locals are now desperate for the Zona Guiri to be thriving again so they can get back to work at the clubs and the local hotels,” she explained.
Though there has been no confirmation when holidays can resume, many are looking towards the summer with hope.
“Although there are a few people steering on the edge of caution, the majority of business owners are desperate for tourism and the good times to return,” said Lauren.
“When Benidorm is normal, it’s a goldmine for businesses.
“The occupancy of the hotels is one of the highest in Spain all throughout the year.
“It’s one of those destinations that even during winter, there is still a good level of tourism.”
In the meantime, the resort is hard at work making preparations for the return of holidaymakers.
“There’s currently a lot of maintenance and upgrades being done across the city, like the Ambassador Playa and Western Saloon renovation, the pedestrianisation of Avenida Mediterraneo and the new halo lighting, new kids parks being built and even works being done to the emblematic Cross, which has now become pedestrianised and had lighting and picnic benches installed,” said Lauren.
“There are lots of businesses investing in the area in anticipation for the return of the tourists. Benidorm certainly hasn’t thrown in the towel.”
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