The good weather meant that the beaches, like this one in Marbella, were as busy as during the summer. :: JOSELE-LANZA
‘As good as it gets’. Apart from being the title of the film which led to Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson winning an Oscar, it is also the phrase that has been repeated time and time again this week by hotel, bar and restaurant owners when summing up this Easter. Not only did they have more clients, but the visitors spent more and stayed here longer. No wonder those in the sector are talking about a record Easter Week.
From Nerja to Manilva, according to a survey carried out by SUR, occupancy was far higher than at Easter last year and in Malaga city the hotels were 90 per cent full from Good Friday to Easter Sunday; at times the occupancy level reached 100 per cent from Maundy Thursday onwards.
“This has been the best Easter week for years. That is what we were expecting, but the statistics have confirmed it,” said the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre.
The spectacular Holy Week in Malaga province exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts. The lovely weather and the numerous activities on offer resulted in far higher than average hotel occupancy levels. The Asociación de Empresarios Hoteleros de la Costa del Sol (Aehcos) says that about 76 per cent of hotel places were occupied overall, which is four per cent higher than originally forecast. The association also points out that there were a number of last-minute bookings, mainly due to “the good weather and an improvement in the Spanish market”.
This was also the case in Marbella, the other magnet for tourism at this time of year. This is said to have been Marbella’s best Easter for the past seven years, according to the mayor, Ángeles Muñoz, who says that the average occupancy level was 90 per cent, which is not only 20 per cent higher than at the same time last year but has also broken the trend of recent years.
It was not only the hotels that had good results, however. In Vélez-Málaga tourist apartments registered an occupancy level of 87 per cent, while campsites were around 71.5 per cent full.
The number of tourists has had a direct effect on the economy. Especially positive were the figures for Malaga city, where tourists generated income of 29 million euros, five million more than last year. According to figures collated by the Society of Planning and Development (Sopde), more than 323,000 people visited the historic city centre on the days when the processions took place.
The cash registers in bars, restaurants and shops were working non-stop. The Business Association of Estepona, for example, confirms that there were more sales than last year, while the president of the ACET business association of Torre del Mar, Manuel Frutos, says that although no official figures are available yet, shop sales were up significantly as were takings in bars and restaurants.
This was also the case in establishments in Malaga city. Sources at Aehma say that turnover rose between 10 and 12 per cent, principally in the area of influence of Holy Week. For According to Alejandro Reche, manager of Lo Güeno restaurant in the city centre, this year the fine weather and the fact that all the processions were able to take place had an effect. “Maundy Thursday, with the Legion’s procession and the cruise passengers, was the best day of the year,” says this restaurateur, whose takings were 25 per cent higher than at this time last year. “In the city centre we can’t complain... campaigns like this Easter are a good thing because they mean more staff can be taken on,” he explains.
Ángel Sánchez Rosso, the owner of El Chinitas restaurant - also in the centre of Malaga - says that not only was the atmosphere during Easter Week notable from the start, but customers spent more. Each one spent between 26 and 28 euros on average, which is two or three euros more than in 2011.For Ángel Sánchez Rosso, this Easter was comparable to those before the crisis began. According to Sopde, tourists spent an average of 89.90 euros, while day trippers spent about 39.45 euros.
The fact that the rain held off definitely util Easter Sunday helped to increase turnover, but two other factors also played an important role in favour of bars and restaurants in the city centre. The first of these was to do with bullfighting, the duel between Morante de la Puebla and El Juli on Easter Sunday, and the second was that several cruise ships visited Malaga. Altogether, 19,131 passengers disembarked from nine liners in Malaga Port from Palm Sunday onwards. Figures from Malaga City Hall show that this was an increase of 166 per cent compared with the same time last year, when the number of passengers was 7,917.
However, Easter Week was also good for the ‘chiringuito’ beach bar-restaurants. The president of the Association of Beach Businesses in Marbella, José Ravira, says that turnover increased by nearly 20 per cent in the 60 chiringuitos along the Marbella coast. In Malaga city, those in Pedregalejo were full for much of the time. “We didn’t stop. Daytime just continued into the evening,” said Antonio López, a waiter at El Morata, which was busy from Good Friday onwards.