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Busy Levante promenade at 11pm yesterday
Hotel occupancy during the first half of July has reached an average of 89.2%, which equals the figure for last year as reported in a statement by the Business Association of Hotels Benidorm of the Costa Blanca (Hosbec).

By nationality, the breakdown corresponds to a 50.1% share to the domestic market and 49.9% share to the  foreign tourist. The International markets has compensated for the domestic market, which fell by 7% during this period.

A major concern for tourists at the moment is security and hotel chiefs are fully aware of this matter. It is reported daily that those disembarking off shuttle transfer coaches in certain parts of the Rincon area are being targeted by pick pockets whilst they are distracted collecting their luggage. This is prevalent especially where the buses do not drop off directly outside the hotel.

Passengers disembarking off shuttle bus
I went and spoke to a representative at the ServiGroup chain head office and she fully acknowledged the issue telling me that they report incidents to the police on a daily basis. Once a bus driver even called the police after realising that the coach was being followed but on arrival at the hotel drop off there was no police presence. I suggested that 24 hour security at the door could go some way to alleviating the situation and she agreed. At present only 4 hotels in the group have it - Pueblo, Calypso, Venus and Diplomatic, the others only offer night security with the exception of the Nereo and Rialto which have morning security too. If they employed visible security staff that greeted and escorted the cliental coming off the buses then the pickpockets would soon move on to easier prey - and what a selling point it would be for them. Although she agreed in essence it was a good idea, the cost of 14 euro per hour for a security guard was too expensive for them. In my opinion it is a small price to pay for added piece of mind and would add repeat business. Those that are unfortunate enough to be mugged are often put off coming back again.

The growth in the International sector is mainly made up of Britons - 12% increase and Dutch - 23% increase, but there is also growth from other destinations such as Russia, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Ireland, Switzerland and even the USA.

The domestic market continues to fall and traditionally August is overflowing with Spanish visitors said Antonio Mayor, President of the Hotel Association, so we may have a shock yet. Hoteliers have blamed the decline of the Spanish tourist primarily on the forthcoming IVA increases, due to come into effect on 1st September and pay cuts due to the Government austerity measures. But despite this date being announced, water, electricity and gas will have the tax increase applied for July and August usage as the IVA rate is applied at the time of billing!

The consumer association FACUA criticized this anomaly but according to article 75 of the VAT Law, VAT is payable at the time of generating the bill, thus the services used in July and August are billed from 1st September onwards. Electricity and Gas fall in the 21% category but Water falls into the reduced rate which increases from 8% to 10%.

Will these prices rise after 1st September?
Before July 2010, IVA on restaurants and bars stood at 7%. The previous Zapatero Government increased this to 8% and the current Rajoy Government has just pushed that up further to 10%. So a 10 euro Menu del Dia will technically, from 1st September be 10.18euros - it will be interesting to see whether  bar and restaurant prices rise, and if so will they be rounded up or will they remain with the establishments taking the loss. Last year, the average Spaniard spent 914 euros in bars and restaurants... I wonder whether this figure falls over the next year. That seems a huge chunk of their income to me, but it is normal for them to go out for a daily coffee as offices here do not provide any sort of catering facilities on site.... keeps the bars busy I suppose.

Traditionally Benidorm is overflowing with Spanish visitors during the month of August - parking is virtually impossible as Spaniards drive from Madrid and other cities for their anual holidays. They will often park their cars and leave them their throughout their stay - normally hogging one of the free white parking bays.

Hopefully the current good exchange rate will not put Brits off coming over...

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