Benidorm goes to Lon­don!

Costa Levante News - - ABOUT TOWN - By Irena Bodnarec

The WTM – World Travel Mar­ket is a huge deal for the travel in­dus­try.

It is one of the world’s big­gest trade shows held at the Ex­Cel cen­tre in Lon­don ev­ery No­vem­ber so this year I de­cided to hop over on a cheap­ish Ryanair flight that I man­aged to book… lit­tle was I to know that get­ting there and back from Gatwick would ac­tu­ally cost al­most as much as the air­fare!

South­ern train to Lon­don Bridge, change onto Ju­bilee line then again onto DLR. By the time I even­tu­ally ar­rived I was more than gasp­ing for an over­priced Sty­ro­foam cup of wa­tery cof­fee – not a patch on a proper Span­ish ‘Café con leche’ which I have got used to.

Ob­vi­ously once you ar­rive at the Ex­Cel cen­tre you are a cap­tive au­di­ence, so if in need of food or drink then held to ran­som. It’s a lit­tle bit like when you are at the air­port or on a plane – you want it then you pay the price we charge!

I wasn’t too sure what to ex- pect but had heard that the Va­len­cian Com­mu­nity stand was much big­ger this year and that Benidorm was very prom­i­nent, so ex­cited at that prospect. Some­times just imag­in­ing it is ac­tu­ally far bet­ter is all I will say on the mat­ter!

A trade show has a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ob­jec­tive to one where the gen­eral pub­lic go to such as Ideal Home Ex­hi­bi­tion, where they are try­ing to sell you some­thing.

Tour op­er­a­tors, travel agents, ho­tel groups are all there look­ing to se­cure new con­tracts or just meet face to face. I saw Ian Doubt­fire, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Jet2.com who have a big share of the Benidorm mar­ket in talks with An­to­nio Mayor, Pres­i­dent of HOSBEC, the hote­liers As­so­ci­a­tion and Leire Bil­bao, Head of Visit Benidorm. César Sánchez, Head of the Ali­cante Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment was present and gave a speech (in Span­ish – so ob­vi­ously only those on the stand could un­der­stand and even lis­tened, but they al­ready knew what he was talk­ing about so noth­ing new to them) about the 74th Vuelta a Es­paña bike race next year, which will be start­ing from La Sali­nas de Tor­re­vieja in the south of the prov­ince, then stage 2 and 3 will also stay on the Costa Blanca.

The stand wasn’t at all ex­cit­ing – a few il­lu­mi­nated im­ages from each part of the re­gion. Benidorm’s had the Villa Ai­tana golf re­sort with the im­pos­ing gold In­tempo build­ing in the back­ground and a plinth with book­lets and that was it.

Noth­ing to at­tract at­ten­tion or draw prospec­tive clients in cu­ri­ous about Benidorm.

It would have been great to have say a cou­ple of girls from Benidorm Palace with all their feathers or one of the many flam­boy­ant drag queens pro­mot­ing Pride, es­pe­cially as Visit Benidorm are ac­tively pro­mot­ing the LGBT com­mu­nity.

I’m sure that there were spe­cial­ist LGBT friendly tour op­er­a­tors look­ing for new des­ti­na­tions – Sit­ges, up by Barcelona is al­ready a big des­ti­na­tion but had Benidorm been ac­tively pro­mot­ing it maybe the Rus­sian mar­ket would have shown some in­ter­est.

With di­rect flights now com­ing in from Moscow etc and the un­known of how Brexit will end up af­fect­ing the British mar­ket, they need to look else­where.

Many re­gions of Spain had such vi­brant stands – Balearic Is­lands, An­dalucía and Cataluña which aroused peo­ple’s ap­petites and feel that we, as a re­gion, re­ally missed the boat and pos­si­bly a new op­por­tu­nity. The Ca­nary Is­lands next door were giv­ing out fresh juice – which ob­vi­ously I joined… be rude not to!

The Amer­i­cas and Asia area by com­par­i­son were mind blow­ing – multi screens pro­ject­ing footage of events, mu­sic – the Costa Rica stand was even trans­formed into a trop­i­cal rain­for­est, the Mid­dle East a top of the range grand prix sports car, Sri Lanka had dancers dressed in na­tional cos­tume… it re­ally made any passers-by stop and take look.

It’s a shop win­dow and if your dis­play is at­trac­tive it will bring in the pun­ters!

Bizarrely, even Ch­er­nobyl in Ukraine was there, pro­mot­ing a nu­clear tour – it’s where the world’s worse nu­clear catas­tro­phe oc­curred in April 1986 in what was then part of the Soviet Union and still a no-go zone and con­se­quences still be­ing felt.

Maybe if we stopped spend­ing so much money on ‘mas­cle­tàs’, the noisy fire­crack­ers let off on each day of any fi­esta in the mid­dle of the day, then there would be money for pro­mot­ing the re­sort prop­erly – but then that’s just my hum­ble opin­ion!

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