The Development of Benidorm as a Tourist Resort 1865-2015
Stage 4: Consolidation
The consolidation stage in Benidorm resulted directly from the rapid urbanisation proposed in the 1956 development plan but the 1963 revision proposed a new high-rise model for Benidorm, for it was realised that space could run out quickly and visitors would too far to walk from their hotels to the beach. Construction of hotels now proceeded on an industrial scale, heading skywards.
An excellent study of the urban planning of Benidorm (contrasting the high rise model with the urban sprawl of Torrevieja) is provided by Mª Nieves Higueras López in a postgraduate study at the University of Alicante in 2012.
Due to the deliberate policy of high-rise building which was an essential ingredient in the plan, the loss of agricultural land bordering the coastline around the previous small village was minimalised. High-rise buildings are also efficient, with lower water loss (street water piping is the main reason for wastage), and the need to conserve water in one of the driest regions of Europe is paramount.
This is not to minimise the problems with water: in fact there was a very serious water shortage in 1969 after the vast increase in water consumption drained the aquifers in the area, which in turn led to the intrusion of salt water from the sea contaminating the wells. This can be considered as a major negative environmental impact, but the 1969 water crisis was just a sign of worse to come: it was nothing compared to the later crisis in 1978.
The peak tourism figure in 1977 – when Benidorm entertained 12 million visitors – came just before the water crisis of 1978, so we can place the boundary point here between the consolidation and stagnation stages of the Butler model.