As someone who is studying tourism and loves travelling, a field trip to Alicante was the perfect way for me to be able to experience how the tourist industry works in the real world.
Alicante is a city located in the south east of Spain, and is the gateway to Costa Blanca, one of Europe’s premier tourism destinations. It attracts millions of tourists every year for its beaches and resort towns such as Benidorm.
Our first day involved a workshop session at Alicante University, and the welcome was as warm as the sunshine. The workshops gave us plenty of opportunity to mix with the Alicante international students, and in the evening a relaxed social was organised with complimentary tapas and drinks for some serious team bonding.
The following day consisted of sightseeing around Alicante. A highlight was the old market, lined with traditional meats and produce and local characters. It’s the kind of place you could people watch all day, but we had to move on, as we had an action packed day.
Next up was the futuristic Volvo Ocean Race Museum, with its interactive approach to providing the story of this world famous sailing event – this part of the trip was perfect for anyone interested in large sporting events.
While walking around Alicante, I gained a deeper appreciation of the city’s history and beauty. The old quarter was filled with 17th century churches, small alleyways with Ice cream stalls and restaurants serving local cuisine, all giving it a distinctive feel.
Overlooking this part of this city was the 200 metre Mount Benacantil, with Spain’s oldest medieval fortress – Castle Santa Barbara – perched at the top. The castle provided some perfect selfie opportunities, and gave 360 degree views of the whole city.
As was the case for the whole trip, we were allowed free time after our planned activities, and it was great to be allowed such independence to explore where and what we wanted.
Lots of us headed to the beach to relax with music and try some local Sangria. This kind of time together brought us all together – without getting too cheesy, we may have left the UK as classmates, but we went home as best friends!
The highlight of the trip for me was the third day, where we got to visit Benidorm – a place where tourism has had a massive impact. Once a small fishing village, it’s now a thriving tourism hotspot filled with skyscrapers and holiday makers.
It was here that much of the theory around tourism we are taught in the classroom came alive. Seeing it with our own eyes was a much more enriching and rewarding way of learning.
We got to learn from the experts too – we were lucky enough to have a guided tour and talk from the head of tourism marketing for Benidorm.
He was able to point out the different impacts of tourism as the whole town was laid out in front of us. It was such an eye-opener and I got so much from it, as I hope my future career will be involved with tourism marketing.
To end the day, we stopped off at the local Enrique Mendoza winery, which I think was everybody’s favourite part!
Situated in a rustic villa in the countryside, it’s a family run venture producing its own brand of wine. After a quick tour we got down to the wine tasting, or should I say wine drinking?! It wasn’t just for fun though – wine tourism itself is an important form of rural tourism that contributes massively to such regions, so the trip was beneficial to the course.
I tried five amazing red wines and now know my Sauvignon from my Merlot, so consider myself a connoisseur! The owner of the winery, Mr Enrique Mendoza joined us for a few drinks and seemed overjoyed at seeing us enjoying his produce. While he couldn’t speak a word of English, his enthusiasm was contagious, and he made the whole experience memorable!
The wine tour in such beautiful surroundings was the perfect ending to our Alicante experience. As a group we all become much closer. We got to know our lecturers a little, and I think they got to know us better too.
This learning experience will benefit all of us in the future, and speaking to some of the most important people in tourism in this part of Spain provided us with glimpses into exactly how they’ve been able to make tourism so successful here.
Field study opportunities like this provide a unique, engaging and authentic learning experience that hours and hours in the library simply couldn’t give.
Want to know more about international travel opportunities at Cardiff Met? Check out Sonny’s European adventures with Computer Science and tourism postgrad Lucie’s trip to Greece.