The Andalusian minister for Tourism, Francisco Javier Fernández, has announced a plan of action in response to the figures released last month that showed a slump in tourism in July.
Statistics from Malaga airport reveal an even greater fall of 2.5% in August compared with the same month last year. Figures from rented holiday accommodation confirmed the downward trend, pointing to the end of a cycle after 2017 broke all records as the Costa del Sol's best year for tourism since records began.
The decline, however, is not the same across the region. Figures for the cities of Seville and Granada actually increased significantly in contrast the first symptoms of poor health shown on the Costa del Sol, which represents 40% of the region's tourism industry.
While passenger figures at Malaga airport for this year up to August increased by just 1.2%, figures for Seville airport increased by more than 25% during the same period (to a total of 4.1 million), and by 23% in July when the Costa's figures fell. Only Malaga and Almeria lost passengers in July.
Similarly Granada airport saw an increase of 31% in passengers in July.
"They will be examining a complete cross section of figures, including data from the tourists' countries of origin and other figures that can give scientific weight to some of the arguments being put forward to explain why some destinations have gone up and others have come down," said Fernández.
The minister's plan involves initially establishing the causes of the decline and then deciding what new action to take and whether any tourism promotion activities already scheduled need modifying.
A group of experts, formed to work on the diagnosis, held its first meeting last Friday. Their task will involve comparing different statistics before finding a solution to reverse the downward trend.
"It's not a question of ringing alarm bells, but we can't sit back and do nothing. We want to detect why the growth in previous years has come to a halt, although we all know that we are comparing this year with a record-breaking 2017," said the minister.
The working group is formed by professionals from the analysis and statistics service for the Andalusian tourism industry known as SAETA (Sistema de Análisis y Estadística del Turismo de Andalucía), specialists from the airline sector and the head of Big Data development, as well as officials from the Junta's Tourism Department.
The aim is for the study to be complete by the beginning of October, after which a meeting will be held with all the tourist boards in the region as well as business owners in the industry.
"Our aim is to make sure that this trend does not take hold in any of the markets, acting both in the short and long term," said Fernández, adding that action could be taken as soon as the next World Travel Market (WTM) in London in November if necessary
The British market, which provides more than 30% of business for holiday accommodation on the Costa del Sol, is at the head of those showing signs of recession, along with the German market. One of the reasons put forward is the increased competition from Mediterranean competitors such as Turkey and Tunisia.