Thursday, September 23

Prisoners of that inopportune image of the army on the beach

Hopefully, believe me, because Spanish tourists aside, a summer without English, as much as they are not the majority in July and August, can be catastrophic because of everything that the sector already accumulates. But going back to Colomer, now, more than ever, we need to get the promotion right and where to direct it. Once again, the door must be the headquarters of the British Government in London, because the pandemic not only punished us in the form of human lives, but also cut us off from the promotional strategy of this land. A year later, municipalities such as Benidorm continue to pay for not knowing how to stop the image of the Army patrolling the Levante beach and, this was the direct responsibility of the Consistory, establishing “clausus numbers” to access the beaches and having tourists waiting for the sun to access a piece of sand, without knowing if, even, if they were going to achieve it. That’s why today, after fourteen months of ruin, we can’t screw it up again.

The model, our model, must serve to get us out of the hole, although, of course, you have to give it a thought and forget about the obsession of measuring success by the percentage level of occupation, for example. But, for now, there is no one to change it, and we had not done so badly with him, so let’s not blame him. The survey on the level of spending carried out by the millions of foreign tourists who every year choose the beaches of the Costa Blanca to spend their holidays ratifies, edition after edition – we are going to ignore that dramatic reality of the last fourteen months marked by the pandemic -, that our model, at the moment, does not give to demand the prices of the Côte d’Azur, something known since the first hotels in Benidorm began to be built in the 70s, but it works. The then incipient tourism sector, guided by the manna caused by the money that came from Great Britain for the construction of hotels in a Spain where bank credit did not exist, was carried away by the tour operators, those who would later be reviled but now we hope like May Water, which they financed thousands and thousands of places on the condition that they be reserved for their tourists.

They were British workers who had to find a summer area, close to their homes and cheap. That’s how it started and that’s how it continues 50 years later. A model that began with the English, but was later adapted to other markets like the national itself. A structure that, until now, needed large numbers of tourists to pay the bills. They left then and continued until March of last year, as evidenced by the fact that the provincial tourism industry maintains 300,000 jobs a year and accounts for 15% of GDP.

The reality of foreign tourism on the Costa Blanca is what it is. Three out of every four foreign visitors come to the Costa Blanca from the industrial districts of Liverpool or Manchester with medium / low salaries and on trips organized by wholesalers -the large chains are also releasing this burden-, who, as companies, have the goal of making the largest box possible. And there has been, in many circumstances, the error of the sector.

Having succumbed to the imposition of prices, perhaps there was no other choice, of some merchants who helped create the model but who have been collecting their bills for 50 years. You accept my prices and rates or I take the planes to other airports. And this is how the sector has worked for years, conditioned by rates that marked the “DNA” and the very typology of many beach hotels designed to cater to large contingents of visitors who do not demand much but are not willing to pay much for the pension complete.

It is true that things have changed in recent years and the quality / price ratio of the province’s tourism sector is unbeatable, but at the expense of the hotelier or restaurateur’s own pocket, who prefers to sacrifice profits to lose some customers who are beginning to be attracted to other areas, Turkey and Tunisia, where tour operators use the same tactics as in Benidorm in the 70s. But Everything is still new there and it sounds very exotic.

Alternative markets? Are you betting on luxury tourism? … Where do we get them? The 4 million British tourists, more stevedores than Lords, who visit us every year represent a number of overnight stays that are very difficult to find in other European countries, especially when Germany, the other factory for creating tourists, has its beaches in the Balearic Islands and The Canary Islands, let’s not fool ourselves, despite the fact that we cannot forget the 600,000 Germans who visit the Costa Blanca every year, of course. Russians are unstable and most of those we see and hear on the streets of the province are workers looking for a future job in Alicante. And as for the Nordics, with a high purchasing power, they are few in number to supply a market as powerful as the British one. A cheap but fundamental client for the tourist economy of the province of Alicante.

At the moment and despite the fact that winds of change are already sounding in the sector, you have to be realistic and work with what you have, giving it quality (British tourists have little complaint when they are at home at 25 degrees), and only then will it be possible try to increase profitability. But, I insist, the model is the model and It is difficult for a Briton of those who comes to the Costa Blanca to go off the script budget that was marked when choosing the hotel where you will spend your holidays, and that, in most cases, does not include a visit to a gastronomic temple or El Corte Inglés. Sometimes they will not even step on the free beach, being able to be in the hotel pool.

It is what it is and thank you. If one day the English cannot take vacations, the effect – in sight – for tourism would be lethal And if not take a look at the numbers that the pandemic has left us. Ten billion euros of losses, 70% of the hotels still closed and 25,000 families with their day-to-day pending an ERTE, a social and economic band-aid that cannot be the solution, although right now we celebrate that they are extended until September or, who knows, end of the year. For now, we are going to trust that before July the color of the traffic light will change and the “green” will arrive. Right now, it is our hope that identifies the happy color.

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