The oft-maligned Spanish resort of Benidorm is to apply for Unesco World Heritage status.
Local officials believe the resort qualifies as a pioneering holiday destination which “represents a masterpiece of human creative genius”.
Benidorm mayor Agustín Navarro said the idea resulted from discussions about transforming the image of the cheap and cheerful resort.
“We wanted to protect all that we’ve achieved during the recent decades as well as give it dignity and value,” he said.
“Tourism is now the world's most dynamic and important industry, whether viewed in terms of employment, cultural change or environmental impact, and the beach holiday is a particularly significant component of tourism's growth and as such, pioneering holiday destinations, like Benidorm, deserve to be taken seriously,” said a statement issued for the Visit Benidorm Tourist Board.
The statement says that Benidorm meets six of the 10 Unesco categories, although just one is enough for an application. They reason that Benidorm “represents a masterpiece of human creative genius” and that it “provides a unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization alive or missing”.
Academics at the University of Angers in France are backing the initiative, saying that the resort provided a unique template for other holiday resorts.
“It’s a symbol of harmonious coexistence that happily brings together people of all nationalities and languages. It’s a materialisation of the welfare state in action,” according to another backer, sociology professor Mario Gaviria.
The Spanish government back in the ‘60s transformed the small fishing village into a holiday town in order to attract package tours. It is estimated that some 250 million people have visited since then.