Plans to apply for UNESCO recognition were unveiled by Benidorm city hall on Monday evening.
Benidorm should be recognized as a city of "exceptional universal value" and as a world-class example of "sustainability and respect for natural resources", explained Mario Gaviria, an esteemed sociologist and professor at the Public University of Navarra, who has drawn up the proposal.
The seaside resort on the Costa Blanca grew from a sleepy fishing village of just 3,000 inhabitants in the 1960s to a metropolis of highrise apartment blocks and hotels that draw 1.7 million visitors each year.
It now boasts the tallest residential building in Europe – the 200m unfinished Intempo tower – and has the highest density of skyscrapers per square metre after New York.
Benidorm's Intempo tower is the tallest residential building in Europe but is yet to open. Photo: Jose Jordan / AFP
To be included on the World Heritage List, sites "must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria," according to the Unesco website.
"Benidorm fulfils six of the requirements needed by UNESCO," said Gaviria.
Spain already has 44 sites listed, among them the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela, the Paleolithic rock-art filled caves at Altamira, and the historic city of Toledo.
Explaining why Benidrom should be recognized, Gaviria said: "Over the last 50 years some 250 million visitors have enjoyed Benidorm, a symbol of harmonious coexistence happily bringing people together of all nationalities and languages."
Benidorm mayor Agustín Navarro said he will now develop the proposal with a view to applying to Unesco authorities for consideration.
There are currently 1,007 recognised sites on the World Heritage list from 161 nations.
Benidorm mayor Agustín Navarro and Mario Gaviria announce the plans on Monday. Photo: Ayuntamiento de Benidorm