The reality of the financial crisis continues... yet another tour operator has gone into voluntary bankruptcy. "Dias Libres" a Spanish company - part of "Dias de Ocio S.A" leaves many hotels on the Costa Blanca with outstanding debts amounting to nearly 3 million euros. The operator dealt with most of the hotels in Benidorm and now HOSBEC is trying to assess the damage, which will hit the small and medium hotels hard. In many instances the customers pay the tour operators and then they have, in some instances up to 90 days credit before they have to pay the hotel. Generally the operators have no real estate or assets to cover the debt should the worse happen and so an increasing number of smaller and independent establishments are now taking payment directly from the customer to avoid these risks.
The second half of November has been great for Benidorm, with hotels registering 75% occupancy – an increase of 3% on last year. The unseasonably warm weather helped and figures have shown it to be the mildest for many years. December is looking good too, with many already fully booked over the Christmas and New Year period. Looking ahead to next year, the Chancellors UK budget announcement that APD – air passenger duty is to be abolished on children under the age of 12 from next May and extended to children under 16 from 2016 is great for the travel industry. It is a hugely positive step for families and will save 13GBP per child on flights to Europe and up to 97GBP per child on long haul – quite a saving and extra holiday spending.
However, great news from Ryanair..... they have announced that they are going turn up the pressure on its rivals by paying the APD on child seats 6 weeks before the Goverment date, starting from 27th March to allow families to save on Easter getaways! I wonder whether the others will follow suit - I´d get booking on Ryanair quick if you want to grab a bargain!
For those heading here for the festive season it is certainly not as cold as in the UK – daytime temperatures are still around 17 degrees and the beaches were still busy throughout November. The ice skating rink is currently under construction in the Town Hall Square and a great place to take the kids – both big and small!
Although some of the clubs are shut there are still plenty to choose from. Spain is a great place to see in 2015 and full of ritual – the 12 grapes have been a tradition here for many years and the supermarkets have them in tins, ready peeled and deseeded. At the strike of twelve you are suppose to swallow one at each chime and if successful, you will have luck for the entire following year. I don´t think that many actually manage it, but it´s great fun watching people try!
If here then head up to the Mirador in the Old Town, where many will gather – there is a fantastic party atmosphere and everyone goes armed with grapes and bottles of cava. Tapas Alley will have live music in the street and you will be able to purchase bottles of cava for only 5€ from all of the bars and restaurants - not bad for New Years Eve where most would hike the price up.
If you want a slightly more cultured evening, then Benidorm Palace have "Boney M" as guest performers for New Years Eve – with the "Four Tops" topping the bill on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.