Spanish resorts want to attract a better class of tourist

Benidormhas applied to Unesco to be given World Heritage status.

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The Independent Travel

Having seen a revival in the Spanish economy following the downturn of recent years, tourism officials are keen to banish the reputation of certain resorts as places for lager louts and stag parties, and attract a new type of wealthier visitor.

Spain is the most popular destination for British tourists and other northern Europeans during the summer months, but on average they spend less than those travelling elsewhere. That's why a slew of initiatives has begun in popular package destinations such as Magaluf and Benidorm, to attract deeper pockets and fewer drunken visitors.

Magaluf, in Mallorca, has long been known as a party town, with late-night bars and clubs pulling in those for whom a visit almost always means getting drunk and letting their hair down. But several incidents in recent years have shocked even seasoned locals who have grown accustomed to yobbish behaviour. Perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back came last year when a young British woman performed sex acts on 24 men in order to get free drinks. It led to local officials announcing a crackdown on the resort's lively nightlife.

The holiday season got under way last month with local officials banning drinking in the streets between 10pm and 8am, and insisting that holiday reps accompany groups on bar crawls. Sadly, it appears so far to be having little effect.

The crackdown has been treated with scant respect by tourists and after years of recession in Europe, bar and nightclub owners seem to have little incentive to limit drinking rounds and turn away customers.

Back on the mainland, other resorts are trying different tactics. Benidorm, a town that has become synonymous with partying Brits and retired sun seekers, has applied to Unesco to be given World Heritage status. While some may laugh and accuse officials of resorting to a hopeless publicity stunt, they are serious about the bid, and hope that the move will attract the curious as well as the blind drunk.

The thinking is that Benidorm was one of Spain's earliest holiday destinations, and because tourism is such an important global industry, its role deserves to be recognised. If the Unesco application succeeds, Benidorm will join more than 40 other Spanish sites on the list, including Granada's magnificent Alhambra and Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

And, speaking of Barcelona, that city's residents have complained for some years that its centre has become overrun with visitors, especially during the summer months, and that the advent of the likes of Airbnb has driven up property prices to unaffordable levels. In truth many believe that those visiting are simply not spending enough money, and local officials would rather bring in fewer, but wealthier visitors.

For now, the city's new mayor – the leftist Ada Colau – has ordered a moratorium on new tourist licences for hotels and hostels while the administration conducts an "in-depth analysis" of the tourism sector.

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