By Andrew Atkinson
Alicante-Elche airport could play a role in a Benidorm Island ‘bubble’ proposal for the Costa Blanca amid COVID-19 and one of the worst summer seasons of recent times on record.
“Benidorm Island is already a real proposal. The proposal is replicable and adaptable for the Costa Blanca and for source markets present in the Alicante-Elche Airport hub and can be replicated and adapted for the rest of the Valencian community,” said Benidorm mayor Toni Perez.
Benidorm is asking the UK Government to grant it status as a bubble island in a last throw of the dice to welcome back British tourists in the autumn and winter season.
A safe air corridor could be set up for autumn travel in the midst of many hoteliers either closed or planned closure in September after low capacity during the summer.
Benidorm is on the Spanish mainland, where a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel warning is currently in place.
Benidorm’s mayor Perez announced details of the Benidorm Island saying they wanted to offer a safe tourist destination, that behaves like an island, in order to recover its position in the British market.
The offer would be for the ‘same old Benidorm’ – but with the guarantee of a series of highly tested security measures: “A destination like Benidorm cannot stand still,” he said.
The initiative is aimed at matching or rivalling the holiday destinations in the Canaries and Balearics.
Travellers in the proposed scheme would undergo coronavirus tests – before they set off for their holiday and again before their return.
As part of the Benidorm Island plans, weekly tests would be offered to labour personnel and public workers linked to tourism to ensure the best health conditions.
Manager of Visit Benidorm, Leire Bilbao said coronavirus tests would be offered in place of quarantine a part of the bubble and Benidorm would become the only island on the mainland operating for the British market over the winter.
A hospitality team would also be set up to monitor tourists during their stay in Benidorm and for a period of 14 days after their return to the UK.
Monitoring apps would also be used and hotels would have all the COVID-free regulations in force.
Nuria Montes, secretary-general of the hotel association Hosbec, said: “It is intended to generate confidence both in the destination and in the work carried out”.
The idea has been put to the Secretary of State for Tourism, embassies and tour operators, under the premise that the coronavirus pandemic situation is a risk associated with people- and not places – and that good proof of this is the experience accumulated in the last six months.
Nuria Montes said Benidorm hoped the authorities of Spain and the UK would make the resort an exception so it could thrive again.
President of the Provincial Council, Carlos Mazón said: “Benidorm is an icebreaker ship for safe corridors. I ask UK PM Boris Johnson to listen to British residents and tourists who wish to travel to Benidorm”.
Regional secretary for tourism, Francesc Colomer described the concept as “a very well developed project”.
Currently passengers travelling to Spain from the UK face 14 days isolation imposed by the Government under returning to the country.