Benidorm, the emblematic city of tourism in Spain, shows these days a picture far removed from the usual one, very different even from the winter months of moderate occupation, all because of the coronavirus.
The empty streets, without people, with almost non-existent traffic and with most of the closed shops ‘sine die’ are far from the always bustling image of a city whose attractiveness resides largely in the presence of crowds in any corner.
It is true that this same scenario, or very similar, is currently found in any other place in the country, but it is not for this reason that it is striking that the tourist icon of the Valencian Community, the maximum exponent of mass tourism in Spain, the model that succeeds where and when others fail, now looks more like an urban desert typical of other latitudes.
“Sad and lonely”, this is how the city portrayed a neighbor paraphrasing the old student song smashed by the tunas.
Tourism, the main activity par excellence, has not faltered. No. Benidorm has become accustomed to this, having always known how to maintain itself. Now it has literally fallen. And he did it with the stroke of a pen without almost anyone seeing it coming.
The first consequence has been immediate with the cancellation of reservations, the repatriation of some 35,000 travelers, the closure of hotels and accommodation, and the complete cessation of businesses that live mainly from the presence of British.
El Rincón de Loix, the neighborhood where just a week ago thousands of English people were clinging to their ‘pints’ of beer, now looks like the set for the second part of the film ‘Soy leyenda’.
The second consequence will be seen in a few days. Easter is coming and the tourist sector, obviously, already gives up that piece of the cake. Given the possible evolution of the pandemic in Spain, in all probability the state of alarm will be maintained and, therefore, the forced closure of establishments will continue.
Hosbec, the hotel management, sees some hope that in mid-May or early June they can start to open with the hope of going back in the summer and recovering part of the turnover.
Expectations that, for the moment, remain far in time in a panorama that still does not invite optimism.
The third consequence will be – it is already being – the fall of the local economy and the loss of jobs. In the hospitality sector alone, Hosbec predicts around 5,500 workers affected by ERTE. To this we must add those presented by companies that make a living from tourism.
And is that with the disappearance of tourists, neighbors who can not walk the streets or users of the Imserso holidays, even the pigeons in the parks are surprised that no one eats them, as has been found in a video that circulates on social networks.
Every year around this time, Benidorm prepared to receive the high season as a divine mana. Every year, at this point, Benidorm honed its services and adorned its beaches, streets and walks to welcome a Holy Week that represents the thermometer of what will be the coming months.
Every year, back in March, the end point was put to an endless number of works whose aim is for tourists to find a more comfortable, modern city, to their liking.
This 2020, however, will be different. The coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected a municipality whose tourism industry is the reason for its success and existence.
If this doesn’t work, the rest don’t either. Benidorm is like a house of cards on the top of which are the hotels and from there, on the lower floors, are the other accommodations and activities related in one way or another to the sector. If the above fails, it’s easy to guess what will happen to the rest.