Preserving Benidorm

By | Category: Travel rumblings


Would you preserve Benidorm as it is now? Would you grant it the equivalent of Grade 1 listed status?

That’s what the Benidorm Town Council wants to do.

Back in 2008 in one of the very first stories I wrote when Just about Travel was an infrequent blog, I mentioned that a French geographer, Philippe Duhamel, had suggested that Benidorm became a UNESCO World Heritage Site because  “the collection of skyscrapers which holidaymakers know only too well were culturally important.”

Then I suggested the idea seemed a little strange despite the fact that Benidorm had originated the skyscraper tourist resort model which has been successfully followed by other mass market destinations. In the last six-and-a-half years, have I changed my mind?

No, I still think it is strange that a whole city should be awarded a status that will pickle it in aspic for generations to see.  And that is the major problem. Benidorm was built to fulfil a mid twentieth century solution to tourism and has served it very well. The town prospered and the ITV series, Benidorm, has only added to visitor interest. It has the highest concentration of skyscrapers in any tourist destination in the world but that may not be what tourists will want in the future.

If awarded UNESCO status, Benidorm wll have a hard time trying to alter without damaging or ending that status. So if the tastes of visitors change and Benidorm cannot, then Benidorm will decline much in the same way that some UK seaside resorts have done.

Is that what the town council wants?

I suspect they haven’t thought this through and have been seduced by that geographer’s remark all those years ago. The council will still want tourists and as Turkey has demonstrated year-after-year, tourists come back if you contnually improve and enhance; not by staying the same as you are.

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