Story By: Ana Lacasa, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Picture Credit: CEN/Karen Maling Cowles
The president of the British Businesses Association in Benidorm claims that drunk Brits now terrorise the resort for up to half the year and security is a major problem.
Karen Maling Cowles moved from her home in Britain to Benidorm, in the eastern Spanish region of Valencia, 28 years ago.
Last year she became president of the newly founded British Businesses Association.
In an interview with El Mundo Newspaper, Cowles said the Association was set up to “improve relations between British residents and the authorities”, as well as “make sure residents who live and work here are aware of Spanish laws.”
She said: “During the 28 years I have lived in Spain, I have always noticed that there is a separation” (between the British and Spanish). The British usually live together and do not usually integrate themselves in the Spanish life or culture.”
Cowles says the association also encourages people to take Spanish classes and mix with the locals.
She says there is a serious security problem in Benidorm and the quality of the tourism has been slowly deteriorating with less visitors coming and businesses suffering.
When talking about possible solutions to the rowdy reputation Benidorm has gained, Cowles said:
“For example we believe we should avoid the signs advertising ‘live sex’, especially during the day and the sale of vulgar t-shirts. Basically get rid of this image that everything goes.”
Cowles also says that the prostitutes working the streets are known for robbing tourists, but that as they are too embarrassed to tell the police, they can’t do anything about the robberies.
Cowles highlighted that this reputation has put an end to families and older tourists visiting the resort.
Because of this, tour companies have changed their packages to appeal to younger crowds who come in groups such as stag dos, and this has meant that ‘drunk tourism’ has extended, now lasting half a year.
Cowles highlighted that the association is against the big groups coming, who constantly make trouble on the street, often walking around fully naked.
She said: “It goes from March to the end of June then begins again in September until the end of November. This is what attracts people: crime, sex, robbery and drugs.
“It’s a shame because many people ignorantly generalise and blame the British tourists. And it’s sad because in the end, we are all victims of this situation.”
She went on to say that she hopes that if everyone can work together, the situation will start to improve over the coming years in Benidorm and they will be able to reduce ‘drunk tourism’.