Why Benidorm doesn’t need Guardian journalists

DSCN2927Benidorm has applied for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The news was reported today in the Benidorm edition of Información alongside the ironically timed coincidental death of José Miguel Iribas, one of the most powerful voices for promoting the mass tourism model in the resort, who died of cancer aged 65: requiescat in pace.


Benidorm’s application for World Heritage site status will take from three to five years and will involve evaluation of the resort’s cultural contributions and its qualities as an example of a settlement that developed in a particularly unique planned high-rise urban scheme.  Its ecological and environmental contributions will be assessed as well as its place in history.

As a teacher in a local school, involved in continuous research into various aspects of Benidorm’s geography, history and culture, I can instantly see how Benidorm stands a very obvious chance of qualifying for World Heritage status. If you have read the history, and if you are aware of the local culture and the extraordinary connections in Mediterranean antiquity, the idea of Benidorm applying for World Heritage status is not very far fetched: it is simply a continuation of developmental ambitions begun with an outward international maritime world view going back centuries!

And yet the ignorant British flagship of modern sneering liberalism, The Guardian, had this to say in its dismissive superficial story about Benidorm’s application: “As it grew from a sleepy fishing village of 3,000 people in the 1960s to a destination of more than 300 skyscrapers…”  etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Wake up, Ashifa Kassam – the Guardian’s reporter in Madrid – because you just fell into the same trap that the C minus grade GCSE Geography students fall into in their Benidorm tourism case studies: “a sleepy fishing village suddinly beacame a tourism place beacuse of package tours beacuse my grandad said he went there in 1963 on a propelling plane.”  No, Ashifa Kassam, there was no sleepy fishing village: there was a town with long-standing international maritime connections, a vibrant political and cultural life, and an economy that ensured street lighting was installed in 1832, long before many parts of England.

And the Guardian then compounds its ignorance – its total ignorance – of Benidorm with another factually incorrect slur on the resort in an article about two French oceanography “researchers” who don’t seem to have done very much research at all.

“Take Benidorm, where in 1950 just 2,700 residents lived in a sleepy village,” writes the Guardian’s Stephen Starr. He is not much of a star, as he still thinks Benidorm was a sleepy village until it “saw its income fall in the 1950s with the closure of its tuna market. Locals turned to tourism.”

Well, no actually, Mr Starr. They turned to tourism in the mid-19th century, consolidated it in the 20s and 30s, then became involved in urban planning in the 1950s. See the stages properly developed, and don’t keep repeating the primitive C-grade Geography case study. We don’t read newspapers to be misinformed.  Here’s your homework, lad: some of the things you might have missed. There are many more.



Sylvia Plath, 1956 sketch of Benidorm

Sylvia Plath, 1956 sketch of Benidorm


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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3 Responses to Why Benidorm doesn’t need Guardian journalists

  1. Jack Hughes says:

    I offer the Rabit a carrot do I get an A* in my geography report?

    Seriously though the ignorance is astounding, I spent a week in Jalance (which I believe isn’t too far a drive from you) last February and I was blown over by the beauty of the Spanish countryside, the food, the little Church which was packed for the Fiesta (San Blas), the Cloppias (I hope I’ve spelt it correctly) in the morning and the procession up to the Church for the Saint’s feast (all the women in traditional Valencian dress), the young queen, the elder queen, the history of the place and the friendliness of everyone I met. Yet if the British press ever bothered to notice it, all they would note is the nuclear power plant in the next valley.

    I can see why the Rabit moved to Spain


  2. Frere Rabit says:

    The history and culture of this region is indeed very interesting, and as you say the countryside is beautiful. The environmental concerns that were central to urban development will be one of the things that the Benidorm heritage application will major on.

  3. orthodoxgirl99 says:

    I am astonished that national press journalists are so badly informed…or am I just being naïve here? This of course adds weight to the old saying “don’t believe everything (or should that be anything) you read in the newspapers”. Foolish on their part – they could have written a far more interesting article. Now they look like pillocks.

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