The increase in the number of UK tourists in the Costa Blanca resort has been linked to the rise. Benidorm officially entered the “extreme risk” Covid category today after its 14-day cumulative incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants reached 254 ‑ six times the national average of 43 according to Spain’s Ministry of Health.
Spanish media were quick to link the spike to the reactivation of British tourism, with respected daily El Mundo saying: “Benidorm’s Covid rate shoots up as British holidaymakers return.”
The grim figures came after it emerged 22 percent of the resort’s visitors are now from the UK and Britain was restored to its traditional number one spot ahead of second-placed Belgium.
They also coincide with a worsening Covid situation in Britain where the number of daily Covid infections this week topped the 50,000 mark for the first time since July amid growing concerns over a deadly winter wave of the virus.
Concern is also mounting that other countries could follow the lead set by Morocco in banning British tourists, although there was no suggestion today that Spain was considering changing entry conditions for holidaymakers from the UK.
Health sources told Spanish daily ABC that Benidorm had registered 179 new coronavirus cases in the last 14 days, just 11 less than the city of Valencia which has nearly a million inhabitants and has a cumulative incidence rate of just 23 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Benidorm is understood to be one of 13 municipalities in the Valencian Autonomous Region, including the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Castellon, which are now categorised as “extreme risk” because of the Covid situation.
One well-placed health source described the situation as “worrying.”
Brits have been flocking to Benidorm since the easing of travel restrictions at the start of the month with the overhaul of the UK traffic light system and the scrapping of fit-to-fly and day eight tests for double-jabbed tourists.
The resort’s Little England began buzzing again earlier in the year when double-jabbed Brits were told they no longer had to quarantine on their return from Spain, and some hotels reopened for the first time in more than 12 months.
It was confirmed after a Bank Holiday earlier this week that UK holidaymakers were now accounting for more than 20 percent of all visitors.
Toni Mayor, president of local hotel association Hosbec said earlier this month: “The situation has improved dramatically.
“There’s a British atmosphere in Benidorm which reminds me of the atmosphere of old before the pandemic struck.
“Around 20 percent of the holidaymakers in town at the moment are now British and with the other 20 percent who’ll hopefully return now the restrictions have been eased, we’ll be back to the way things were three years ago.
“We’re hopeful that’s going to happen. All the bars and cafes in the Little England area are open and doing good business because they’re packed.
“We think the number of Brits holidaying here will rise rapidly and there could be a massive surge.
“It looks like it’s going to be a good autumn and a good winter, possibly the best winter we’ve had for the last few years.
“We know the Brits want to come to Benidorm and with the lifting of restrictions, that’s obviously going to encourage them to get on planes.”