BENIDORM has become a ghost town after the annual influx of British tourists to the Spanish resort has dried up in the pandemic.
Now, with the economy decimated, around four destitute expat families A WEEK are returning home to the UK, The Sun can reveal.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
Benidorm’s British Businesses Association says the number of families it is helping to repatriate has “shot up” over the last 12 months.
President Karen Maling Cowles said: “We’re assisting with around four repatriations a week.
“One family went last week and three are going this week. We’re talking about people who haven’t got the resources to pay for the trip.
“In many cases they’ve worked here for years and have made their life here and it’s very hard for them.”
Yesterday, The Sun told how Brit Lindsey Evers and her family were surviving on foodbank handouts after she lost her job as a waitress there.
Mum-of-three Lindsey, 45, and partner Peter Chadwick, 56, who also lost his job as a chef, are now trying to raise the cash to return to their native Halifax.
Here, Benidorm’s mayor makes a plea to PM Boris Johnson to put Spain on the green list of countries that British tourists can visit soon . . .
WE know the Brits want to visit our wonderful beaches and embrace our marvellous sunshine — and that day can’t come soon enough for us, too.
Benidorm without the Brits is just not the same. We are missing you as much as you are missing us.
Tourism is great for this town. It generates development as well as happiness for us and our visitors.
I am very sorry to hear about the story of Lindsey Evers and her family who are having to return to Britain after losing their jobs in Benidorm.
Covid restrictions have, in some cases, reduced the activity of hospitality businesses here to zero.
We have done as much as we can to help people, mobilising more than £12million in financial assistance over the past year, irrespective of their nationality.
The only condition being that potential recipients had to be registered residents here or have businesses here.
But I appreciate that there has been a lot of hardship for those whose jobs are linked to tourism.
It is very regrettable to hear there are Brits living in Benidorm who feel they have no option but to pack their bags and return home. Like everyone,
I’m looking forward to the day when we can put this pandemic behind us.
All of us need a holiday to feed our spirit and souls. We need to see blue skies and enjoy a dip in the sea.
We need to breathe in fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on our skin in a place with thousands of hours of sunlight
And, frankly, there is nowhere better than Benidorm to recharge your batteries as we try to get back to normality.
Now I ask your Prime Minister, Mr Johnson, to assess and analyse the serious work we have done to minimise the rate of contagion and the cumulative transmission rate of the past 14 days.
And to consider putting Spain on his green list of countries that British tourists will be able to visit.
We would like Benidorm to be included in any agreement on safe air corridors that Spain reaches internationally with other nations such as Britain.
I can assure you that when British holidaymakers are given the green light to come back, they will find Benidorm very safe.
From day one of the pandemic we have redirected all our efforts into making this happen.
We have adopted social-distancing protocols, covering everything from restaurants to hotels and transport.
Social distancing will also be in force on our beaches, with each party of holiday-makers given 16 square metres of our beautiful sand to sunbathe on.
And you will not have to wear your face mask while topping up your tan.
Benidorm’s town planning is based around open-air pedestrian walkways, with wide avenues and pavements, large parks and beaches as shared spaces.
British nationals who have lived here for years tell us they feel safe with the measures we have in place.
We say to all governments, “Treat Benidorm as an island”. We feel like an island on the Spanish mainland. Everything is here, you do not need to go elsewhere.
The levels of coronavirus infection here have been below both the provincial and regional average.
And the Valencian Autonomous Region, which includes Benidorm and the Costa Blanca, has the lowest cumulative coronavirus transmission rate in Spain.
Many adult Brits have been vaccinated and our vaccination rate here in Spain is now gathering speed.
Hopefully we can soon get back to something approaching normality.
And when Britain’s tourists return they will find the place has undergone a makeover.
The absence of tourists has given us space and time to treat the famous Little England area of Benidorm to a revamp.
We have a lovely climate so we want to improve the pedestrian areas so that tourists will only need vehicles to reach and leave Benidorm.
British holidaymakers when they come back here will find a better town, a town with some spaces that look totally different and much more attractive.
This has been a difficult and life-changing year for all of us. We are confident we can turn the corner soon.
But we need you here to help.