According to statistics released this week by Spain's national statistics office, Andalucía beat previous years' records in terms of visitor numbers this summer, while the Costa del Sol saw a decline in the number of visitors this September compared with the same period in 2017.
The Costa del Sol saw 3.5 per cent fewer people visiting than September 2017 and recorded 2.7 per cent fewer overnight stays.
However, it isn't all bad news as this year, to date, the statistics office has said there has been an overall increase of 0.8 per cent, although fewer people are staying overnight as that number has fallen slightly, by 0.2 per cent on last year.
Rise in visitors to inland areas
While the Costa del Sol may have lost a few tourists, other provinces in Andalucía have seen significant rises in the number of visitors. The Costa Tropical in Granada province reported a 3.8 per cent increase, while Seville has become the most popular destination recently, attracting 6.8 per cent more people than in September last year. Cadiz also reported a healthy 4.3 per cent rise in visitor numbers while Jaén saw 3.1 per cent more visitors.
President of the Costa Tropical hoteliers association, Jesús Megías, says that while the area, which includes Almuñécar, La Herradura, Salobreña and Motril, hit record numbers this summer, the office of national statistic's figures "don't tell the full story," as they don't account for the number of tourist apartments that are not registered. "Not only do they distort the figures but they don't record visitors' experiences when they come here," he said after the numbers were released.
He fears that people booking 'illegal' accommodation are not "covered by the same guarantee" that a hotel or registered property provides and people could leave the Costa Tropical "having had a bad experience" that won't get reported.
The coast of Granada continues to see a higher percentage of Spanish tourists than neighbouring Costa del Sol, with just 36,000 foreign visitors of the 138,505 that stayed at some point between July and September.
The Costa del Sol, on the other hand, continues to receive higher numbers of foreign tourists than Spanish.
Reacting to the figures, which show a drop in numbers of tourists in Malaga after a record-breaking year in 2017, the president of the Costa del Sol tourism authority, Elías Bendodo, said that 3.5 per cent more people were employed in the hotel business this year compared to 2017 along the Costa del Sol.
Despite the overall drop in numbers in Malaga province, the Marbella tourism delegation responded to the figures saying that they had experienced a 2.9 per cent increase in overnight stays in September and the Torremolinos representatives also said that they had reported an increase in people staying in hotels in the town and that the overall projection for this year was "going well."