The Costa del Sol is not only the favourite destination for tourists who come to Andalucía, but for entrepreneurs and investors as well. The province of Malaga received 51 per cent of foreign investment into the region in 2017, which was 0.84 per cent of the total in Spain. This is according to the second annual report on the business climate in Malaga province, drawn up by the Ciedes Foundation and Malaga city council's inward investment office.
Malaga and the Costa's slice of the Andalusian foreign-investment cake grew considerably compared with the previous year (31 per cent). Gross foreign investment increased by 38 per cent compared with 2016, to 205 million euros, while in Andalucía as a whole it reduced slightly.
Analysis of investment value held in the province, (rather than what comes in and out over time), shows that Malaga was the province in the region with the highest growth between 2013 and 2016, at more than 64.7 per cent, compared with 34.1 per cent for Andalucía.
This and other data is included in the report, which the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, said is the only one of its type carried out by a Spanish city. It studies different statistical sources as well as the results of a survey which was sent to 150 local-based companies with foreign capital and 50 entities and individuals who work with this type of company.
One of the most relevant aspects of the report is the companies' expectations regarding turnover, investment and job creation. Mª Carmen García Peña, the head of Ciedes, says this is generally positive, especially among the larger companies with foreign capital. About 60 per cent of those with over 500 employees expect to take on more workers this year, while 20 per cent think levels will stay the same and 20 per cent expect to reduce them.
The perspectives for turnover and investment are also good. Just over 60 per cent of the companies expect their volume of business to increase this year, and that is more than last year. With regard to investment, 57 per cent believe it will increase. The major companies are the most optimistic, as 80 per cent expect to see an increase this year.
Foreign companies gave Malaga province a score of 2.94 (out of five) in overall terms, which was slightly lower than the previous 3.14, but García Peña explains that this is due more to a change in the questions asked in the survey (there were more aspects to score) than a worsening opinion of the city. The factors most highly valued by the companies when deciding on Malaga and the Costa were infrastructure, quality of life, innovation and human resources. The downsides were costs, the regulatory environment and tax.
The investing companies were clear that the area's strengths lie in the airport and high-speed train service, followed by the port, leisure facilities and culture. The weaknesses are seen as energy costs, slowness of commercial courts and subsidy availability.
When asked how Malaga could improve, the majority said the lack of language skills is a handicap for a province which has been making a living from tourism for over 50 years. Next came electricity costs, availability of international schools, quality of business colleges, acceptance of responsibilities and objectives by workers and other energy costs.