National News

Benidorm hotel bosses hit back at Sanchez

After a disastrous summer season that saw hotel occupancy in Benidorm drop by 80%, hotel groups in the resort have expressed their dismay at the latest State of Emergency put in place last weekend by Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, which he proposes to extend through until May next year.

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Following Sunday’s announcement a worrying flood of cancellations for next spring have started to concern hotel chiefs, who had previously been encouraged by an uptrend in bookings for 2021.

Nuria Montes, general secretary of Benidorm hotel association, Hosbec, expressed her worry surrounding the new extended measures, which also allow the autonomous regions to decide on travel restriction within their borders.

“Of course, it is not the best strategy for tourism to send the message to Europe that there is a state of alarm in Spain until May 9, 2021, because that generates concern and insecurity,” said Montes.

“It is clear that the evolution of the covid-19 has gotten out of control, and no one can assure that restrictions on mobility between the autonomous regions end up being decreed, but there are other control formulas.”

News of the extended state of alarm proposal, coincided with dire figures released by Hosbec, which revealed that Benidorm, suffered more than most with lack of summer tourists.

The figures, report a drop in hotel occupancy of 80.7% compared to 2019, as only 730,643 overnight stays were registered, compared to about 3, 8 million in the third quarter of 2019.

In addition, foreign tourism fell 86.8% and overnight stays 91.4%, with a direct consequence leading to a 64% drop in employment, according todata from the INE.

In Benidorm there were 71 hotels open and only 45.3% of the rooms were occupied compared to 91% in July, August and September 2019.

José MaríaCaballé, president of the Servigroup hotel chain, which has several hotels in Benidorm, but only kept two open during the pandemic that, said, “Of course you have to have prevention with Covid-19 , but you cannot change the pace every minute.”

Adding that, “it seems that there is a black hand on tourism and hoteliers, and the truth is that I no longer know how all this is going to end as there are no security and guarantees, for when the validity of the ERTE ends at the end of year”.

Victoria Puche, president of the Alicante Provincial Hotel Association, also expressed her confusion at the Prime Minister’s decision.

“Trying to suddenly decree a six-month state of alarm is unusual when, on top of that, you allow tourists to enter the Canary Islands without taking a test. I don’t know what the government wants. Who is going to come to a country in a state of alarm?”She proclaimed.

The declaration also comes as a blow to plans being drawn up by the Valencian government and their Andalucian counterparts, who had begun the joint, groundwork talks with the National tourist office to introduce a safe air bridge to Alicante and Malaga airports, in the hope of encouraging more foreign visitors during the winter period.

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