ENGLISH holidaymakers considering a trip to Benidorm this summer would be best off travelling soon warns a local business owner, in case of a second spike this autumn.
The Costa Blanca had previously been expecting a big influx of UK holidaymakers in September and October, thanks to lockdown measures both there and over here.
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But now that borders have reopened, both Spain and England are facing localised lockdowns, thanks to a surge in coronavirus cases in parts of each country.
With fears of a second wave coming later in the year, Karen Maling Cowles, president of the Benidorm British Business Association, reckons anyone planning a visit should avoid delays.
She told Sun Online Travel: “I would imagine there are many people wondering if they should come now, because there have been very mixed messages.
“But if there is going to be a safe time this year, it’s now – before the autumn because we don’t know what will happen in the future.”
She continued: “Now is the window that people should make the most of because it’s almost like visiting in December, but with the sun – it’s actually quite beautiful now.
“You don’t have to step into the road because of the crowds, the air is fresher and you can totally enjoy it.”
For those who are planning a trip, the holiday experience will be quite different to the last time they were in the resort.
While Spain came out of lockdown faster than England, they have also maintained a number of strict rules to try and curb another rise in cases of coronavirus.
As a result, Brits holidaying in Benidorm this year will be made to wear face masks when they stroll along the shoreline, or face fines of €100 (£90).
Ms Maling Cowles said: “We’re prepared to receive tourists but of course we want tourists to respect how far we’ve come.
“Our beaches are completely organised, policed and well staffed, the businesses likewise are very much prepared for social distancing and sanitising.
“The only difference now for people coming is you have to wear a mask if you cannot socially distance.”
She continued: “All staff in bars and restaurants wear masks, the tables and chairs are sanitised after each sitting, the toilets are cleaned six times a day – even at the supermarket you have to sanitise your hands.
“I recently went to a bar and they sprayed my shoes and sanitised my hands, then they checked my temperature before I went in.
“I don’t think we’ll reach normal tourism levels for quite some time because people are concerned to travel, but we’re trying to let people know that nowhere is over crowded at the moment.”
While the Benidorm businesses are keen to have their British guests back in the resort, there is some concern about whether they will be able to follow the strict rules in place.
Ms Maling Cowles said: “There is some concern that people will not respect what we have done and the legislation we have put into place, particularly when they are drinking.
“We want the level of safety to remain what it is now and that can be achieved as long as everybody respects the rules.”
British holidaymakers in Benidorm will have to pre-book their spot on the beach from this weekend.
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Benidorm mayor Toni Perez confirmed the much-anticipated hi-tech system would go live at midday this Thursday, after the resort’s beaches came close to reaching maximum capacity last weekend.
Friday will be the first day sunseekers will need to have pre-booked before they are allowed on the sand, although only for Levante beach which is one of Benidorm’s two most popular beaches.
No date for the activation of the pre-booking system for Poniente Beach has yet been announced.