Torrevieja town hall is boasting that the summer festivals organised in the town will have an economic benefit of 12 million euro, according to a report they commissioned, and have justified spending 481,000 euro on marketing and advertising on behalf of the festival organisers. Almost half a million of public money, when the organisers themselves are set to make millions, if the events are successful.
Across all the fiestas, the town hall has based the earnings on 85,000 visitors. That is 45,000 for Brilla Torrevieja, and 40,000 for RBF.
Coincidentally, the Councillor for Tourism, Commerce and Consumption in Murcia, Jesús Pacheco, as reported by The Leader, this week commented how the concerts there, including Iron Maiden and Rod Stewart, attended by 131,567 people, brought with them an economic impact of more than 12 million euro for the area (91 euro per person), the same amount that the 85,000 people in Torrevieja are allegedly spending, so either the people attending Torrevieja are spending considerable more (141 euro per person), or the figures simply don´t add up.
We would expect nothing less that the town hall to justify spending half a million euro of public money promoting these festivals, but it should be noted that their figures are based on capacity fulfilment, and none of the sister events around Spain have been at capacity, one (Madrid) even being cancelled due to minimum safety standards not being reached.
Even the Reggaeton Beach Festival (RBF) organisers are calling the Torrevieja event a “macro-fiesta”, playing down the expectations for the 75 euro per person two day minimum ticket price (82.50 when you come to pay, as despite saying the prices include taxes, they don’t), which is half the price of the Barcelona event, for example. In Torrevieja, the tickets are available for a single day at 60 euro, but this is not the default option.
Regarding the expected capacity for RBF, the town hall says 40,000 people, but the reality is that the tickets are firstly promoted as two-day tickets, so the real figure is in fact could be a maximum of 20,000, not the 40,000 the town hall boasts.
The Madrid version, which was cancelled as the organiser couldn’t satisfy the minimum safety standards, was billed at a 50,000 capacity, again highlighting the unlikeliness of Torrevieja’s initial and erroneous estimate.
For Brilla Torrevieja, the 45,000 is spread over all the days of the festival, the reality being that only 3,000 people the expected on the peak days, including for the Black Eyed Peas. Despite the questionable figures, many of the concerts, including the Black Eyed Peas, are showing as sold out.
Again, the 45,000 people figure will be reduced by those who choose to go to multiple concerts, or indeed the entire festival. It also calls into question the expectation that RBF would even reach 20,000, when Brilla Torrevieja, maximum 3,000, is now an established event in the town.
Again, we would expect many of the attendees to go to multiple concerts, so the overall total would be lower than estimated.
If, however, RBF Torrevieja reaches the hoped 20,000 person capacity, at the base price of 75 euro, that alone is 1.5 million euro revenue in takings for the organisers (many of the tickets are priced higher than that), and they don’t even have to pay for advertising thanks to 121,000 euro of public money given to them by the town hall, which, by the way, goes to the Barcelona based company, not Torrevieja. The organisers expect to make little over 1.5 million in ticket sales, so as expectations go, that is nearer the mark.
Although we can see that the original figure of 85,000 people is blatantly untrue, one other thing the town hall has neglected to consider, or are assuming would not be the case, is that residents of Torrevieja might actually want to attend these festivals, as well as tourists, and even some tourists who might actually be in Torrevieja at the time anyway, so they too have to be taken off the total figure.
Whereas there is a chance that the hotel sector will see an increase in revenue, none of the major hotels around Torrevieja have promoted themselves directly appealing to the events.
A random search for the Hotel Dña Monse for a weekend break from 4 to 6 August, during the RBF festival, revealed only a single type of room available, a deluxe, at a cost touching 1,000 euro. The official booking portal claimed no other rooms were available, and only one of that tariff was bookable.
Many people drive to these fiestas and bring their own food and drink with them. Although food and drink are available at the venue grounds, organised by the events and part of the revenue income for the event organisers themselves, they are legally not allowed to prevent patrons taking their own food and drink into the venue (although they may try). As many of the festival goers bring their own, this is of no direct benefit to local traders.
Those who do not want to take their own drink may well buy locally, and of course the obvious place they are most likely to find is Carrefour, and so there would be a boost to the earnings of the French multinational, not the local corner shop perhaps run by a struggling local resident.
If the partygoer runs out of drink and finds the prices inside the venue too expensive, they may then of course chose to leave to refresh supplies, although this is not as easy as you might think, because the terms of the ticket sales explains, “For those who wish to freely enter and exit the venue, there will be a special RE-ACCESS bracelet, which they will have to purchase at the venue’s points of sale.
This bracelet is included in some types of tickets that specify it in their description.” For Torrevieja, you have to add 25 euro to your ticket price for this privilege, otherwise, once you’re in, you can’t leave.
However, and more importantly than the millions set to be made by event organisers and corporate chains, it should also be noted that although the potential the town hall boasts of the potential for boosting the local economy, it directly prevents hundreds of local traders from earning any money.
During the weekend of RBF in Torrevieja, both the fun fair and Friday market will be closed. That means around 500 local traders are being prevented from earning a single cent during the busiest weekend of the year.
Muddying the water of official figures further, the town hall says that “the concerts will attract a total of 45,000 direct tourists and 150,000 indirect ones, which will earn the city between 4 and 5 million euros in hotels, restaurants, cafeterias and other businesses”, and whereas the hotels might benefit, as we have seen, because the aim of the fiestas, RBF in particular, is to provide everything onsite, because you enter and never leave, remaining on the site for the entire day and into the night, it is not clear to see how any other local businesses can benefit, whereas it is clear that local traders have been neglected, local traders who could do untold benefits with a half a million euro advertising budget, rather than handing out money to those who already have it.
As a final point of reference, the town hall said last year that more than 50,000 people enjoyed Brilla Torrevieja, and then revised their initial estimates to say that it had a direct and indirect economic impact of almost 3 million euro (60 euro per person, considerably lower than the 141 euro per person they are quoting this time), according to the press release issued after the FITUR tourism event, somewhat lower than the 8 million initially reported by the town hall in their press release of August 2022.
So, let’s do some simple maths, if 50,000 people last year brought in 3 million euro, the demonstratively incorrect 85,000 people would bring in 5,100,000, but we know the 85,000 people is incorrect, and so the qualified and even over estimated value is highly doubtful to be 12 million, but at best, if all their reasoning comes to fruition despite the doubts highlighted, the value is maybe a third of that.
We will not mention the inconvenience to local residents with traffic, noise, cleaning, and we definitely will not mention parking, as RBF states there is no parking available, and anybody who has ever tried to park in Torrevieja…
Okay, we will mention one point about parking, because even on the days that the Friday market is taking place, parking there will once again be drastically reduced, as the space is taken up by the concert infrastructure, and so traffic in the area on a Friday is expected to be even more of a nightmare than normal, not forgetting that the market is not taking place on 4 August to make way for RBF.