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Busy Levante beach this weekend
Despite the economic crisis or lack of direct flights,  Benidorm has remained relatively unaffected thanks to a new niche market - the weekend visitor. This is composed of two completely different types of visitors.
Firstly there is the domestic Spanish market, with many coming from Alicante, Valencia, Madrid and Castellon on a Friday night and returning back on Sunday afternoon - resulting in hotel occupancy reaching on average 88%  and 100% in some places. Hotel owners are delighted with this new breed of tourist ... those that can still afford to travel but because flights out of the country are expensive, have decided to take a "staycation".

56% of domestic tourists drive from Valencia and Madrid - maybe this is why parking spaces in Benidorm town centre are so difficult to find at the weekend  (wonder if they know about cancelling their parking tickets?)
They tend to book all inclusive packages ranging in price from between 35 - 100 euros per person per day depending on the hotel category. At 35€ per person all inclusive it is cheaper for them to go away for the weekend than stay at home - in Madrid you can pay that for one meal!

The Costa Blanca is at present, the "Spanish zone" that has best withstood the recession thanks to the British holidaymaker. Tourism to Spain as a whole is down 6% but the Costa Blanca  is up 3% over the high season - which is classified as May to October. According to the hotel association, 155,187 British holidays have already been booked over this period.  Benidorm in particular is the only Spanish destination that has had no recorded decrease in bookings, unlike the Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa del Sol and Majorca which although has 532,000 bookings confirmed it still signifies a 9% fall.

Group of "Virgin" hens in Broadway
Of the British tourists coming to Benidorm, a massive one third come from the North of England - namely Manchester and Newcastle! Most choose an all-inclusive package - with 75% booked via a tour operator, a 7% increase on last year. Industry sources noted that this is a direct result of stress and inconvenience suffered when there are problems, particularly with the airlines. Customers want the security of knowing they will be taken care of should another Icelandic Ash cloud appear or air traffic controllers strike take place - halting flights back home.

The other increase of weekend tourists come in the form of "Stag & Hen" parties from the UK. Benidorm has become the epicenter of Europe for such events - its close proximity to the UK and wide choice of budget airlines serving Alicante make it the ideal destination.
Stag lads from Essex on 4 day jaunt
They arrive for usually a 3 night break and stay as close to the town centre as possible, in particular the English quarter. The groups of men and women can easily be spotted as they don all manner of fancy dress, much to the amusement of locals - especially the Spanish.

The majority are well behaved, here to have a good time and enjoy the cheap drink in copious amounts. Where else can you go and get a pint of San Miguel for 1.50€ - the equivalent of £1.25.
The bars are certainly happy and other local businesses are also benefiting from the groups, such as adventure excursions (go-karting, bike experiences) - how they have the energy to fit all that into three days is beyond me!

The return journey to the airport is usually very quiet and subdued (hangovers spring to mind). But a word of caution from local transfer boss David of Costa Blanca Private Transfers. He took a group of 12 stags back to Alicante airport for their return Ryanair flight and they had forgotten to print off their boarding passes! It cost them a cool 720€ for the "privilege" of having it printed off at the airport  remember Ryanair charge £60 per boarding pass to be printed off! I bet that they spent less on their entire weekend here ... at least it will be memorable - but maybe for the wrong reason.
Don't the boys like dressing up!

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