When you go to Benidorm – sometimes nicknamed Beni York because of its skyscrapers along the shoreline – the superb and elegant adventure will delight and amaze you with its grace, beauty, and multicultural ambiance. Your splendid vacation is all due to Pedro Zaragoza Orts. This little biography will explain his role in Benidorm’s tourism industry. Often referred to as “the man who made it all happen,” Orts was mayor of Benidorm from 1950 to 1967. Before continuing, you must remember that in the 50’s and 60’s, cheap accommodation Benidorm had not been founded and even finding a hotel or apartment to stay in was very difficult.

Born in 1922, he was a young man when he took over the sleepy village of Benidorm. It had a population of around 3,000 people ad tuna fishing was the main enterprise. In 1956, under Mayor Orts, a the Plan General de Urbanismo was established. This city planning document was design to, among other things, control how new buildings were constructed. The land was primarily farmland where olives and citrus fruit were grown. The city plan, really a town plan, provided for some of the green space to be saved when new buildings were constructed.

This kept Benidorm apart from the fate of so many European cities that became concrete jungles. Although Benidorm is not really considered a particularly built up area today, there is still lots of cheap accommodation in Benidorm and cheap hotels in Benidorm are probably only going to increase in number over the coming years. The big step that Orts took that put Benidorm on the map was wage the War of the Bikini. Already aware of the beauty of Benidorm beaches, Orts was making serious gestures to lure more tourism to the area. In the 1950s, the two piece bathing suit known as the bikini exploded on the fashion world and women started appearing on beaches in the itsy-bitsy bikini. When the bikini brigade started showing up in Spain, the reaction to it was harsh and swift.

Spain was a very Catholic country and the bikini was considered way too daring by most of Spain. Orts however, instantly saw that in order to have tourists and attract more tourists, Benidorm needed to embrace the tourists and make it a pleasant place to visit. When the government and some of the residents viewed the bikini as a tool of the devil, Orts resisted. Then one day a British tourist wore a bikini into bar and was told by a Guardia Civil officer that the bikini was not allowed in the bar. She hit him and received a huge fine. Orts got into the fray. He rode his Vespa to Madrid to see General Franco about the bikini laws. Franco made the decree that bikinis were allowed in Benidorm streets and plazas and so became the first Spanish town that allowed bikinis.

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