Benidorm is promoting itself as a luxury destination but hopes to maintain its position as an affordable package holiday resort.

New hotels in the Spanish resort include Asia Gardens Hotel and Spa, while older hotels have invested heavily in refurbishment.

Maria Jose Montiel Vaquer, director of the Benidorm Tourist Board, said: “These companies have made huge investments and are now selling this to the tour operators.”

She claimed the resort would have no difficulties moving upmarket. “Our biggest market is the UK. There are 60 million people there and quite a lot of them have the money to come to a spa hotel for a week.”

During the economic slowdown the resort would benefit from greater flexibility in pricing allowed by internet marketing, she said. “If needs be, agents and operators can come to an agreement to push sales, and it now takes five minutes to publish the new pricing,” she added.

Authorities in the Spanish resort are also applying for World Heritage Site status awarded by UNESCO, she said.

Although the resort is not often thought of as having significant cultural importance, it has a special place in architectural history as the first high-rise resort in Europe, she said.

Professor Philippe Duhamel, of the University of Angers in France, said Benidorm should not be compared with the Taj Mahal or Stonehenge, but industrial sites like the Ironbridge Gorge in Shorpshire.

Planning laws from the 1950s made Benidorm’s high-rise architecture unique, Montiel Vaquer said.

More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008