Travel expert says it’s ‘encouraging’ to see destinations opening

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Benidorm is well known for its heaving groups of tourists enjoying the sun, sand and sangria at the resort in Spain. However, Covid has meant the Spanish hotspot has been tourist-starved for many months. Britons have been banned from travelling to Spain since December 2020. spoke to Sue Rush, a British expat living in Benidorm, about how the resort has changed in the wake of coronavirus.

“Covid has had a devastating effect on Benidorm,” the 64-year-old said.

“It relies heavily on British tourists; although we do get tourists from other countries, the Brits spend the most.”

The mother-of-two explained that life in the Spanish town is far from what it used to be.

“Benidorm is a very sad sight right now,” said Sue.

“The streets are empty, shops are open but there isn’t anyone here.

“Weekends used to get a few people coming for the day but that’s not allowed at the moment.

“Nobody can go in or out of Benidorm from 3pm Friday until 6am Monday.

“The police are at all entry points stopping anyone trying to get in or out unless it’s work-related.”

Sue explained that many businesses, including her own, have felt the brunt.

“The banning of Brits has had an enormous impact on many people I know,” she said.

“Our business is suffering as we sell awnings – usually this time if the year we are busy with bars and restaurants as they get ready for summer but that’s not happening at the moment because of the uncertainty regarding holidays.

“Fortunately we have had our business for over 30 years so we are getting by for now, but many businesses will not survive another season without tourists.”

Some expats Sue knows in Benidorm simply can’t carry on with their lives out in Spain any more.

“A lot are having to return to the UK as they have lost their jobs or business,” she said.

Sue is sticking it out, though. “We have been here for 35 years and even during this pandemic we haven’t considered returning to the UK,” she explained.

Despite the struggles Benidorm has faced over the past year, the community spirit has been strong.

“The expat community has been wonderful in this pandemic, raising money for the local food banks and helping those that are struggling,” Sue said.

What’s more, she remains optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It all seems a bit strange here at the moment without the buzz of the tourists enjoying all the area has to offer,” Sue shared.

“But I’m hopeful for the coming months and some sort of return to normality.”

This week, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, said she thinks Spain will be able to open up to tourists again in May.

She estimates that 40 percent of the population will have received the vaccine by then.

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