Mass tourism has eclipsed the rich heritage of this sunny coast. The skyscraper-crowned tourist city of Benidorm draws criticism on cultural and aesthetic grounds. However, some panelists noted that the intense concentration of tourists in one spot may save the environment elsewhere.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"The historical role of the destination has been completely overwhelmed by its new second home sea-and-sun orientations."
"Overdeveloped coastal stretch lacking in integrated planning. But, the city of Benidorm applies sustainable practices in water use and waste treatment."
"Educating visitors and locals may help recover this area. Tourism has developed so much that neither natural nor cultural quality of the place is there anymore. Even food is standard because it is only produced for mass tourism."
"Pockets of social and cultural integrity add to aesthetic appeal, but the authentic, unspoiled bits of coastline are heavily fragmented."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.