Tourists sunbathing in a hotel above one of the town’s beaches. :: JOSELE-LANZA
Summer has arrived early in Marbella this year. Hotel occupancy rates in the town have been exceptionally high since the Easter holidays and it appears that the normal peak season has been extended.
During June and much of May seafront promenades, shopping centres and, above all, hotels were visited by similar tourist numbers as those expected in July and August.
The increase in visitors can be seen predominantly in luxury hotels and resort managers predict that it will continue at least until October.
After Holy Week, which was very successful for the tourism industry, hotels have been catering to more tourists than is customarily expected at this time of year. The highest level of occupancy rates is generally between Thursdays and Sundays, although some hotels are full now throughout the whole week.
Jorge Manzur, manager of the Puente Romano hotel, puts the lengthening of the tourist season down to a number of reasons. For example, the recent growth of the economy in tourists’ home countries - this is especially relevant in terms of the traditional British tourist market.
Manzur also said that there has been a rise in tourists coming from new countries. In the case of the Puente Romano, the hotel has experienced an increase in the amount of Russian, Scandinavian and American holidaymakers. According to its manager, the trend is expected to go on throughout the summer and could last until October.
Fernando Al-Farkh, manager of the Los Monteros and Guadalmina hotels, said that in both establishments the high numbers during Holy Week have continued up until now with the hotels completely full for weeks.
For Al-Farkh, this expansion is due to a number of reasons.
Hotels were forced to invest in bringing tourists from new markets due to the crisis. “The more channels that are open the better, and recently there have been many more. For example, for us the number of Russian tourists doubles year after year. Although it is still a minority market for us, the increase is very important,” he said, crediting some of this to the promotional work of the Costa del Sol tourism board.
Domestic tourism on the rise
Al-Farkh also attached great importance to the behaviour of the domestic tourist market as there is a growing confidence about the economic situation.
The manager of the Don Carlos Hotel, Mariángeles Martínez, also drew attention to the domestic market. In her opinion, after years of holding back on expenditure Spanish tourists are now beginning to travel more. She also pointed out the rise in Nordic visitors.
The director of the Don Carlos Hotel noted how the increase in tourist numbers has been achieved without a reduction in price and that more people are arriving independently, rather than as part of a tour group.
“We have had to reserve rooms for individual clients during months when normally we would depend mainly on group tourists,” she said.
According to Martínez, this lengthening of the tourist season on the Costa del Sol is not a phenomenon that is taking place in other coastal areas of Spain.