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Cheap Benidorm hols could be over as resort vows to ditch boozy Brits and choose ‘upmarket’ tourists instead

CHEAP holidays to Benidorm could be over as a resort boss vows to ditch boozy Brits and choose ‘upmarket’ tourists instead.

Servigroup hotel president José María Caballé, 79, says British tourism is not the money-maker it once was.

“Benidorm has reached a point where it has to change because the costs are going up and hotels can’t work with such low prices,” he told The Times.

Mr Caballé – who owns 18 hotels in Spain – said boozy Brits on holiday were no longer desired guests in Benidorm.

“During the 1970s, 80s and 90s the standard of living in Spain was very low. People put up with noise and drunkenness because they needed to. We can’t cater for low-level clientele to get drunk for three days. This doesn’t happen in a modern country,” he said.

According to Mr Caballé, the solution to Spanish tourism’s financial woes was to focus on more upmarket travellers and return Benidorm to its “gold rush” era of the 1970s.

He built his first hotel in 1970 as Benidorm began to explode in popularity with Brits. A 5km stretch of beach in the town is now known as the “British zone”.

“People came to enjoy Benidorm, its night barbecues, excursions, parties, discos. We had services of great quality,” he said.

“In a way we should return to that spirit, to promote the whole area, with its potential for sports, visits to nearby mountain villages, for food, wine and culture. We have to offer more than sun, beaches and cheap alcohol.”

Benidorm is going through its worst tourist season in about 60 years.

Mr Caballé said the coronavirus pandemic was a “decisive punch” to the Spanish tourism industry, causing an excess of hotel bed as tour operators go broke.

He argued that revenue would never return to the same levels as before the outbreak, and therefore a change of approach was needed.

About seven million Brits travel to Benidorm for a holiday each year.

The town is the fourth most popular tourist spot in Spain, with 16.2 million visitors annually.

The tourism sector generates 12 per cent of Spain’s gross domestic product.

Spain is on the UK quarantine list following a spike in coronavirus cases – meaning returning Brits are required to self-isolate for two weeks.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested last week that Spanish islands could be added to safe travel lists in the future as the Government explores “regional” quarantines.

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