Tourism bosses in Marbella are preparing for a strong summer season of business from high-spending customers from Arab-speaking countries.
Mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, has confirmed to SUR that the town hall has been informed, via different consulates, that this summer members of royal families from different Arab states will once again choose the resort for their holidays.
The mayor said that as the Ramadan festival finishes before the start of the summer season this year, stays will be longer and the peak season won't be split in two. She also highlighted the importance of improved air links to the Middle East that will contribute to "fantastic visitor numbers".
On 4 June, Ramadan, the month of meditation and fasting, ends, and even the least optimistic are pointing to 2019 being a strong year for Muslim visitors.
Direct twice-weekly flights from Saudi Arabia, plus more flights from Qatar, will restart as the festival finishes and Turismo Costa del Sol has invested more in marketing, attending the recent Arabian Travel Market (ATM) with local suppliers.
Not all Muslim visitors follow their religion strictly while they are on the Costa, however Marbella businesses are prepared for all needs.
At the Alanda Hotel Marbella on the Golden Mile, the first hotel in Spain to be certified as halal, they are expecting an increase in business. José Ramón Urzay, sales director, said, "After the ATM, our expectations are really high for this year. Predictions are for an increase of around 20 per cent in July and August." The hotel is well prepared to serve halal food and in the bedrooms there are signs showing which way Mecca is for prayer times.
According to Turismo Costa del Sol, the Muslim travel market is growing significantly worldwide.
"This year it seems that everything has come together in the best possible circumstances," said Fernando Al-Farkh, vice-president of Aehcos, the Costa hoteliers' association and the director of the well-known Hotel Los Monteros.
However Muslim clients are known for booking late, so as yet businesses don't know just how well the season will go for them.