Local Daily News 19th January

A change in trend in British tourism: More demand for "all inclusive" so as not to trigger spending on vacations

Optimism and caution. The tourism sector of the Costa Blanca inaugurated its presence this Wednesday at the Madrid International Tourism Fair (Fitur) with mixed feelings regarding what the year 2023 will bring us touristically speaking.

The containment of inflation in Spain invites us to be optimistic regarding the evolution of this market, although the fact that it continues to skyrocket in other European countries that also feed tourists to the province of Alicante makes businessmen and destinations keep alert. “There is a lot of work to be done,” they agree in transferring to different sources.

Among the main reasons why the sector remains expectant is the change in trend that is being observed with respect to booking vacations in the United Kingdom, the international market with the highest volume of travellers to destinations such as Benidorm and other parts of the Costa Blanca.

The employers’ association of British travel agencies ABTA has transferred that one in three Britons who will travel abroad in 2023 will do so through the “all inclusive” modality, whose reservations are increasing by 40% among those under 44 years of age and up to a 57% among young families in that country.

The reason? Inflation in this country continues at records that exceed double digits -it reached 10.5% in December, one of its highest in 40 years-, which means that families have tighter budgets for travel and that, despite not wanting to give up their vacations, they want to do it with closed packages so as not to trigger spending at the destination.

Leire Bilbao, manager of the Visit Benidorm Tourism Foundation, has explained that this change in trend could force the tourist city, one of the great recipients of Britons, to readjust its offer to increase “all inclusive” packages and has warned that, if this demand is not answered, “probably others will and they will take this part of the pie”.

Above all, taking into account that the air connectivity of the provincial airport with the United Kingdom is still below the data for 2019, with 10% fewer seats scheduled by the different airlines until October.

Businessmen consulted about this trend have stressed that “the important thing is that tourists come”, while the hotel management Hosbec has minimised the impact that this change in trend could have, stating that the “all-inclusive” offer in destinations such as Benidorm is “very tight, around 25%”, so they do not believe that it will end up prevailing.

Despite this, fear continues to hover over the main destinations, especially since the growth of “all-inclusive” would bring with it a notable reduction in traveller spending on hotels, restaurants, shops or other areas, such as theme parks or the playful offer

The Government approves the Segura flood plan with 343 million for Vega Baja

The Council of Ministers has approved, at the proposal of the Ministry for Ecological Transition, the Flood Risk Management Plan (PGRI) for the Segura basin, which implies an investment of 343 million euros for the period 2022-2027 to works to reduce flooding in the Vega Baja; that is, 43% of the 840 million investment for the entire basin. This plan contemplates projects requested by the Consell and its General Directorate of Water for the region. In fact, the Generalitat will be in charge of carrying out most of the actions.

The PGRI of the Segura Hydrographic Confederation (CHS), whose objective is to reduce the peak flows that flow into the floodplain, includes 11 interventions in the region, such as green corridors for channelling runoff, rehabilitation and expansion of capacity hydraulics of the network of canals and the improvement of buildings to minimise the impact of floods -in these cases by the Generalitat-. Thus, the hydraulic corridors, which will be sustainable from an environmental point of view, will filter this territory at the mouth of the Segura to make it less vulnerable to flooding.

The Ministry includes the dam and the drainage channel in the Rambla de Tabala, the defence and environmental restoration works in the Rambla de Abanilla and its connection with the Segura river and the increase in the capacity of the diversion channel of the Abanilla boulevard towards the Santomera reservoir. The 2019 DANA highlighted its need. The Abanilla boulevard then devastated part of the Orihuela district with 20 cubic hectometres and peak flow rates of 500 cubic metres per second, while the Santomera dam was filled with 25 hectometres in just 48 hours and the drainage channels could not cope.

Of these, the one that is most advanced is that of the Rambla de Tabala in the municipalities of Beniel (Murcia) and Orihuela, whose drafting of the project for the construction of the dam and the channelling went out to tender for 1,071,814 euros. This is one of the priorities of the basin organisation to prevent the torrential floods of this channel that pours its waters into the Segura on its right bank before the urban centre of Orihuela. A priority that has been expressed over time at the start of the process dated February 1992.

The first cycle of the PGRI (2016-2021) included an investment of 1.7 million for Vega Baja in actions only in terms of study, compared to the current 343 million. “From the Vega Renhace Plan of the Consell we receive with great optimism that the Council of Ministers has approved this flood risk management plan, since it implies an investment for actions that are much needed and demanded for Vega Baja”, its director pointed out. Antonio Alonso.

In addition, he recalled that the Consell has been showing its commitment to the Vega Baja with the repair of infrastructures damaged by the DANA of 2019 and with works to minimise future floods, such as the preparation of municipal emergency plans, the conditioning of the network irrigation and actions to reduce rainwater flooding (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems), among others.

Of the total budget, 107 million will be invested in the prevention and preparation of annual measures against intense rainfall, such as the maintenance of riverbeds, cleaning of boulevards and removal of sediments.

In addition, 110.6 million are for 13 actions outside the Vega Baja but that have an impact on the region due to their degree of influence: channelling and environmental restoration of the boulevards of Molina de Segura, the Béjar dam, environmental restoration and reforestation of riverbank from Cenajo to Contraparada and the restoration of the natural lamination systems in the Cañada de Morcillo.

Parallel to the execution of works, the PGRI contemplates the preparation and drafting of studies, plans and projects in Vega Baja that add up to 80.3 million, such as the permeabilization of national (N-332), regional and provincial highways, a study for the construction of lamination dams in the Balonga-Abanilla boulevards, Chícamo river, creation of lamination zones and dikes in the boulevards of the Sierra de Albatera, Crevillent, Orihuela and Callosa, project of dikes and water storage areas (Pilar de la Horadada-San Pedro del Pinatar), among others.

Mario Urrea, president of the CHS, has stressed that these measures -prevention, protection, preparation and recovery- have been agreed with the different administrations. In his opinion, it is a great step in managing the risk of flooding and an important budgetary commitment from the Ministry to the population living in the Segura basin, which is periodically affected by extreme hydrological phenomena.

The Diputación marks as the great tourist challenge of the year to achieve direct flights to Alicante-USA

Achieving the programming of direct flights between the Alicante-Elche airport and New York is the great bet of the president of the Provincial Council and the Provincial Tourist Board, Carlos Mazón, for this year and he announced it this Wednesday coinciding with the inauguration of the fair, and on the “Day of the Costa Blanca”. Mazón took advantage of the presence of the airport director, Laura Navarro, to make this claim based on the attractions that the province of Alicante has for US tourists, some of whom have even decided to settle for many months throughout the year. year. Even the only direct flights between the province and the US have been sporadic charters chartered by shoe businessmen.

The president of the Provincial Council is committed to US tourism due to the great offer of “language tourism” offered by the University of Alicante and the UMH, and due to the fact that Alicante is consolidating itself as a base port for cruise ships in the programming of shipping companies in the Mediterranean. “We raised the shot and we are going to start working on the US tourism strategy. It is the pearl we are missing. My goal is that we work together with the Generalitat and the airport to negotiate with tour operators, agencies and airlines”, Mazón underlines.

“It is the most powerful challenge we have set ourselves to date and we are going for it. There have never been regular direct US-Alicante flights. We are the number one destination for Erasmus. Why not compete to attract students from the United States, ”says Mazón at IFEMA, where that Wednesday was the big day for the province.

The president requests the support of the Generalitat and Aena to ensure that the province achieves, for the first time in its history, this route with direct flights to North America.

Mazón, who has recognized that tourists “are ready to make the leap to an immersive experience of the Costa Blanca destination”, has announced, on the other hand, “the new and pioneering project” on which the Provincial Board has been working for months of Tourism and that combines innovation, technology and tourism. It is about ‘Augmented Costa Blanca’, whose purpose is to promote an intelligent destination model.

This proposal is based on the evolution of digital culture to increase the service capacity and modernization of the sector, the reach of different public profiles, as well as the visibility and reputation of the destination.

Carlos Mazón has revealed that this initiative “will allow us to position the province of Alicante as a cutting-edge destination, through a leap into the metaverse at the hands of Tertiario Avanzado and Telefónica, a company that in recent times has established alliances with world leaders virtual like Microsoft, Unity or Niantic”.

The concept of ‘Augmented Costa Blanca’ focuses attention on an ecosystem made up of different virtual environments and technological resources that manage to enhance the encounter between two realities, tourism and virtual, in order to increase the number of visitors, Improve communication and customer experience.

The new project ‘Costa Blanca, from the verse to the metaverse’ was presented yesterday in society, at 8:00 p.m. in the Fundación Telefónica building on Calle Fuencarral, with interventions, presentations and round tables to address the opportunities it generates technology in the tourism sector.

As the president has advanced, “the presence of the Costa Blanca in the metaverse has the capacity to increase the visibility of our destination, as well as travel reservations, but it also allows us to optimise efficiency and the ability to analyse the evolution and propose improvements in different areas.

“All of this will stimulate the local economy and increase our position in the international market”, pointed out Mazón, who after acknowledging that 2022 has been the year of the recovery of the tourism market, in 2023 the reactivation of trips and the increase of reservations “drive us to continue improving and implement actions in our three main lines of action: face-to-face, sustainability and digitization”.

The main act of the Costa Blanca, led by the journalist Noelia López Boluda, was held in the Central Plaza of the Valencian Community stand with the presence of more than a hundred personalities from the sector and started with the intervention of the director of the Board of Trustees Provincial of Tourism, José Mancebo. Accompanied by the general secretary of Hosbec, Nuria Montes, and by the director of the Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernández airport, Laura Navarro, Mancebo referred to environmental sustainability, but also to social and economic ones, “because tourism is a lever for consolidated destinations, but sustainability helps smaller territories to develop”.

On the other hand, the image of Alicante can be seen this week on 15 giant screens scattered along Madrid’s Gran Vía, one of the busiest streets in Spain, on the occasion of the celebration of Fitur. In addition, a 54-seater bus covered with images from the tourism promotion campaign will circulate through the main streets of Madrid for eight hours over a period of seven days beginning this Wednesday.

Both promotional actions will have a high impact on the national and foreign public that will become potential visitors to Alicante. In the case of giant screens, they are distributed along the entire Gran Vía, from Plaza de Callao to Plaza de España on the facades of the buildings of the well-known Callao cinemas and the Coliseum, Lope de Vega and Rialto theatres, where a large part of the tourism that arrives in Madrid is concentrated, as well as being a transit point for a significant number of residents of the capital. The predicted impact is close to six million.

This promotional campaign for Alicante as a destination in Madrid is included within a broader winter promotion campaign. The good results obtained in the deseasonalization strategy, betting on differentiated segments such as gastronomic, congress, nautical, cultural or cruise tourism, have led the Tourist Board to launch a campaign publicising the benefits of visiting the city in the coldest months of the year both in the national and international markets.

The Consell suspends urban development actions on non-developable land in Vega Baja

The Generalitat has extended for one year the moratorium that prohibits any urban development on undeveloped land that is incompatible with the Vega Baja Territorial Action Plan (PAT), although this instrument of urban planning on a supra-municipal scale -above the municipal PGOU- it has not yet been approved since the process began in December 2018. Once the initial version was released to the public, the ban was agreed.

Thus, the Official Gazette of the Generalitat Valenciana has published this Wednesday a resolution of the Ministry of Territorial Policy extending for a maximum period of one year the suspension of licences on land in a basic rural situation, except those that are covered by a declaration of community interest or in a regional authorization for the implementation of solar plants on undeveloped land, provided that it has been submitted to the public information process prior to the first resolution of December 2021.

The same resolution indicates that as a consequence of the public participation process and consultations of the initial version of the PAT, in which more than 1,300 allegations were presented, the General Directorate of Territorial Policy and Landscape is introducing the necessary modifications and adaptations in the plan documentation. Afterwards, a new version will be submitted to public information.

The objective of the plan is to achieve rational and sustainable urban development in Vega Baja, which meets the needs and demands of its citizens and all of its potential, but which also takes into account the great environmental fragility of this territory.

According to sources consulted, this extension would also affect unscheduled developable land that the PAT proposes to declassify, since they cannot be approved while the suspension is in force.

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