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The vibrant resort of Benidorm, located on the Costa Blanca, is the ideal holiday spot. A bustling nightlife, white, sandy beaches and miles of stunning coastal views have made it a popular spot among Britons in recent years. This year has seen resorts across Europe, like Benidorm, face financial struggles as the coronavirus pandemic saw countries implement stringent travel restrictions.
Quarantine rules, coronavirus tests and even travel bans are all symptoms of the pandemic that have left the tourism industry scrambling to pick up what’s left.
Simon Barker, a businessman who owns a bar and restaurant in Benidorm spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the crippling impact of the pandemic on his businesses and others.
Mr Barker owns Bar 69, a tourist bar in Benidorm’s Old Town; and 69s Not Just Burgers, a foot outlet.
Originally from the UK, Mr Barker has owned Bar 69 for eight years and 69s Not Just Burgers for two years.
Mr Barker described how his business has gone down by “95 percent” since the pandemic began.
He said: “If you look at my business – our business is down 95 percent.
“Two days in the last two weeks – opening at 3pm and closing at 11pm, we took one euro in a day.
“It’s really sad to see because Benidorm is just fantastic because you have the new town that has the bigger bars, the entertainment and then you have the old town which is more Spanish.”
He added: “This covid has just wiped it [Benidorm] dead to put it bluntly.”
Spain’s lockdown at the beginning of the year was one of the most stringent in Europe.
Although the country isn’t in lockdown, the Spanish government declared a nationwide State of Emergency which includes a mandatory curfew.
The curfew times vary depending on the region, with fines being issued to anyone caught flouting the rules.
Spain’s State of Emergency is expected to last until early May.
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The region of Valencia where Benidorm is based has decided not to make any decisions regarding Christmas and New Year rules until December 9 when it plans to re-open its perimeter again.
Rules on capacity and curfews have meant that Mr Barker cannot open past a certain time and has to restrict how many people are allowed in at one time.
Bars in Valencia are restricted to 30 percent of their legal capacity.
For Bar 69, this means they’re only allowed to have seven people indoors including a member of staff.
“Standing there for eight hours and you only take a euro – It’s just soul-destroying,” Mr Barker added.
He continued: “Unfortunately, it’s worldwide and I understand that.
“I think eventually you’ve got to get on with life, we can’t continuously go on like this because you’ll end up with a completely different world. You have to adapt to it.”
Mr Barker has seen several bars close in Benidorm due to the coronavirus pandemic, with others simply shutting up shop until business makes a comeback.
“I know three or four bars that have definitely closed and they’ve handed the keys back and that’s within 100 yards of our bar,” he said.
“And three or four businesses that have closed that will reopen at some time when the business is there but they’ll open somewhere else – they’ve pulled out of the premises. “
He warned: “And more will happen the longer this goes on.”
It was announced this week that England will be introducing a new testing strategy for international arrivals.
The UK’s current 14-day self-isolation period will be reduced by up to two thirds on receipt of a negative COVID-19 test from a private provider after five days of isolation.
The new rules will be put in place from December 15, but until then, the UK’s stringent quarantine rules for people returning to the UK from nations not on the travel corridor list will remain in place.
Mr Barker said he understood that the quarantine rules had to be put in place but revealed that he didn’t agree with the way in which the British government “dealt with it”.
He explained: “At the last minute on a Saturday they decided that people coming back from Spain had to quarantine which means people here had to cut short their holiday.
“People that were coming couldn’t come and I think the 48 hours notice – which they then gave to Turkey was exactly the same situation.”
The bar owner said he was uncertain as to whether people will want to travel “at all now” until there’s no coronavirus in case quarantine rules are put back in place.
He added: “There’s no confidence in the tourism market at all now and part of that is due, I’m afraid to say, to the English government.”
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