The Olive Press meets Darren Parmenter, tourism councillor for San Fulgencio and La Marina Urbanisation in Spain

DARREN Parmenter, a British ex-journalist, has lived on ‘the urb’ since 1991 and was elected to the town council following the May 2019 elections. He is responsible for San Fulgencio’s tourism department and plays an active role in the tourist office and promoting the area.

Darren arrived at La Marina some 30 years ago, after visiting a tourist fair. He says: “I bought ‘a piece of mud’ on the urbanisation, back in 1989, at a property exhibition in Benidorm. I was thinking ‘investment and holiday home’.”
“At the time, I was living with my parents in Campello, near Alicante, who had taken early retirement. During a visit in 1991, I decided that I liked the area, the location, people, and amenities. I decided to move here permanently, and my late parents bought a house near mine in 1994.”

Darren Parmenter 1
Darren Parmenter in his La Marina tourist office. Photo: D Parmenter.

He describes the ‘urb’s’ many benefits: “We have a community spirit, which wouldn’t exist if people were spread around the countryside. There’s a feeling of security and having neighbours to call upon when needed.”

“We also have nine supermarkets and a great selection of bars, cafes, and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. There’s a sports area with a tennis court, padel, tennis, and a newly turfed football pitch. The Social Centre holds events daily, such as keep fit, Pilates, craft classes, and more.”

Regarding his role as a town councillor, he says: “My previous role as a journalist showed me what other municipalities were doing, and highlighted that San Fulgencio was missing out on many potential initiatives. I wanted to help put San Fulgencio back on the map – and I think this has been achieved.”

“Just for example, we’ve produced our first ever promotional video, and, in January 2022, we had our first slot at FITUR – the Madrid tourism fair. We’ve introduced the popular ‘Rutas Turisticas’ walking routes and the ‘Summer Shopping Bus’, as well as a ‘Recipe Book’ containing a selection of traditional dishes from the area.”

He adds: “With the aim of promoting future tourism from the UK, we plan to attend the World Travel Market in London in November 2022, as part of the Valencian Community stand.  We also want to attend the Brussels Holiday Fair in February 2023, to promote San Fulgencio to the wider European market.”

And there’s a lot to promote in the local area – such as sites of historic interest, including archaeological digs. Darren explains: “The archaeological site of El Oral, is believed to date to between 600 and 400 BC and was originally part of an island surrounded by lakes, with one remaining until the 18th century.  So far, the remains of 21 houses have been excavated.”
“The archaeological site of La Escuera, dates to between 500 and 200 BC and is believed to be the site of an Iberian Temple.”

“Further to that, El Hondico de Amorós is a small wetland, regarded as a relic of what was a common landscape in past centuries, and is the only surviving example in this part of Vega Baja.”

Darren is noticeably proud of the ‘Rutas Ecoturisticas’ (ecotourism routes) that his department launched in 2020. He says: “These have shown many local people the ‘hidden’ treasures of the municipality – of San Fulgencio and its urbanisations. The routes have attracted people from far afield to see the important archaeological sites and learn about the wildlife, some of which is unique to this part of Spain.”

Another popular initiative is the ‘Autobus Verano’ (summer bus) which first operated in 2021, to encourage people to visit the Tuesday and Thursday markets in the zone.  The service links to all the commercial areas across the municipality, to boost custom and trade.

Darren says: “For 2022, because of popular demand, we have added a Saturday daytime service for another local market, and a Saturday evening service, so people can leave their cars at home to enjoy the local facilities.”

As for San Fulgencio village, Darren is fond of this location. He says: “It’s a typical Spanish village that has kept its quaint, narrow streets.  It has a beautiful church, a refurbished museum, a theatre, music school and auditorium, sports centre, swimming pool, and a selection of typical Spanish bars and restaurants.”

He emphasises that La Marina Urbanisation and San Fulgencio are ideally located for tourists. He says: “By being halfway between Alicante-Elche Airport and Corvera (Murcia), and close to the N-332 trunk road and motorways, it is an ideal base to explore the other 26 municipalities of the Vega Baja, as well as Elche, Alicante and Murcia. Here, you can experience unique histories and gastronomies. We’re also close enough to, but far enough away, from the beach.”

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