BENIDORM’S Mayor has rebuked claims that his city is a hot spot for Covid-19 infections brought by a rise in British tourists.
Toni Pérez released a video today in which he slammed reports in the news last week that the city of skyscrapers has an infection rate well above the national average and that it has been fuelled by the rise in British visitors who have started to return. He was adamant that the city was safe and its levels of Covid infections were nothing out of the ordinary.
According to Valencia health department figures released last Thursday, the 14-day accumulated rate in Benidorm was 215 per 100,000 inhabitants, five times the national average of 43, while the regional average was 41.5.
In his video message, Pérez explained that Benidorm’s real population is around 180,000, a figure almost three times the number of people registered. However, the calculations were made using the smaller figure of those registered. He said that if it had been calculated using the real number of residents, the incidence rate of Benidorm would be much the same as any other town or city across Spain.
He reassured the public: “There is no reason for concern, neither among the tourists nor the residents of the city. Safety is a priority for us.” Pérez, of Spain’s conservative Popular Party, said the city is demanding that the Valencia government, a left-wing coalition of the Socialist and Compromís parties, re-evaluate and recalculate the figures and publish them again “with maximum adherence to the real situation.”
Pérez said that more than 300,000 people live in the county where Benidorm is located, la Marina Baixa, and that there is one hospital which serves the area, plus two private hospitals. If there had been an adverse number of new infections they would have noticed it, but, he said, they had hardly seen any increase in hospitalisations.
He explained that the international market had reopened but that because many tourists are required to take PCR tests before returning home, this is precisely when more positive cases are detected.
He said that if data is distorted using population figures which are three times less than the real figure, news stories and headlines appear which bear no resemblance to the reality.
He concluded, saying that the city’s priority was “Maximum safety, lots of tranquility and a destination of reference in terms of safety, nothing like the picture which was being portrayed of the city.”
Benidorm has always been a favourite destination with British holidaymakers, and during the week of 11-17 October, British tourists made up 22.3% of visitors, according to figures from Hosbec, the regional hoteliers association. The following week (18-24 October) this figure had risen to 26.2%.
One can’t help but wonder, though, why there are so many people not registered in the city.
Watch Toni Pérez’s full video