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The mayor participates in a round table to present the success of compact urbanism and efficiency in water management

Benidorm, model of a sustainable tourist city at the VII International Congress of Quality and Sustainability of ICTE

14 June 2024
Benidorm, modelo de ciudad turística sostenible en el VII Congreso Internacional de Calidad y Sostenibilidad del ICTE

The city of Benidorm has been this Friday a model of a sustainable tourist city during the seventh edition of the International Congress of Tourism Quality and Sustainability of the ICTE, the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality, which is being held these days in Jerez. There, the mayor of Benidorm participated in a round table, where he explained all the analysis and management work that is carried out in the city and that has made it not only the first certified smart tourist destination in the world but also an example of international sustainable city from its three aspects: ecological, economic and social.

Under the title 'Mayors 24 hours. Sustainability in tourism organizations and their impact on the local community, the round table has been moderated by the president of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, María José García-Pelayo, and has also had the participation of the first mayors of Águilas, María del Carmen Moreno; Chiclana, José María Román; and Almería, María del Mar Vázquez. All of them, together with Toni Pérez, have explained the particularities of each of their municipalities and the sustainable actions they carry out in their daily work.

“Benidorm fortunately about seven decades ago already opted for a high-rise city,” continued the mayor, “which means that in a small municipal area of ​​just 38 square kilometres, we have 61% of the territory free of construction. We occupy very little land but we scratch the sky somewhat,” he pointed out to indicate that the management of resources in this compact model “is much more sustainable and more efficient” than in an expansive model. “Thirteen Benidorms would free the entire Spanish coast from construction, with brilliant water management and the capacity to make millions of people happy every year,” Toni Pérez elaborated.

Efficient water management and climate change have also been issues that the mayor of Benidorm has put on the table to explain that “we do not know how long this climate cycle will last, but it has consequences that we are already noticing. One of them is the temperature and the other is the water issue since we can no longer trust everything to whether it rains or not.” Along these lines, he has exposed the work of comprehensive remodelling of Avenida del Mediterráneo, where “the average temperature has been reduced by three degrees” by reducing the lanes from six to one – four for circulation and two for parking –, lowering to 10 km/h the speed limit and give more space for vegetation and creating shadows.

Regarding the water issue, the mayor recalled that Benidorm has been using salt water in the footbaths on its beaches for decades and that there are no showers in the sandy areas, “because we understood that the neighbour and the tourist who leaves the beach arrives at his house or his hotel and goes to shower. What sense does it make then to waste drinking water?” In addition, he also listed other actions that are being carried out for the renaturalization of the city. Among them, the incorporation and adaptation of forest areas such as El Moralet or the regeneration of Racó de l'Infern Quarry.

Certification as the first DTI in the world and the continuous study and analysis of data has been, according to Pérez, other keys to reaching the level at which the city is, “overcoming audits and improving day by day” in the five axes on which we work: “sustainability, accessibility, innovation, technology and governance”. For this reason, the mayor has expressed the opinion “that technology does not make a destination smart on its own, but rather it must be accompanied by a process of change at all levels.” A change that, in his opinion, is being carried out successfully in Benidorm, “which is synonymous with effective resource management, job creation and redistribution of wealth.”

The Benidorm mayor has also referred to tourism taxes, such as the tourist tax that the previous PSOE and Compromís government tried to implement in the Generalitat Valenciana, insisting on the message of “never and nowhere.” “This is an invention of those who do not want to recognize that life happens in cities and that we continue to have a poor redistribution of financing,” he stated, to demand the need to “finance city councils for the activity that occurs in each territory, which is what it generates.”

In this sense, he has once again defended that a percentage of the VAT collected by the State should have an impact on the financing of the cities in which it is generated and not only in the autonomous communities, which would make “the mayors motivated to “make our cities a great destination, to generate events or activities to attract more people.”

Flags for the beaches

During the celebration of this congress, the ICTE has also presented the 'Q' for Quality, 'S' for Sustainability and 'Safe Tourism Certified' flags that recognize the quality, safety and sustainability of beaches and marinas throughout the Spanish coast.

The Institute for Tourism Quality of Spain has once again recognized Benidorm with the three distinctions that recognize the excellence of its sandy beaches, a recognition that the people of the Visit Benidorm Foundation, Leire Bilbao, have collected from the Secretary of State for Tourism, Rosario Sánchez and that in the coming days, they will hang again from the coastal masts of our city.