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Plan to kickstart local tourism could see the Caminito del Rey reopen this month

Salado, centre, before Wednesday’s press conference.
Salado, centre, before Wednesday’s press conference. / Salvador Salas
  • Turismo Costa del Sol has devised ten strategies to get the tourism industry back up and running as restrictions are lifted

In order to "scale back the pessimism" within the sector, the president of Turismo Costa del Sol, Francisco Salado, on Wednesday outlined the plan to revivify the local tourism sector.

The Diputación chief recognised that the pandemic is having a “devastating effect on tourism in Malaga”. Data released by the Diputación shows that the area will lose out on four million tourists between 15 March and 30 June - a loss of four billion euros to the local economy.

In a survey of employers, half estimate that the recovery will take a year, compared to 40 per cent who consider a period of six months to a year, and eight per cent who place it at less than half a year.

However, after having formed a thinktank with experts including industry professionals such as Carlos Diez de la Lastra, director of Les Roches Marbella, the former director of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Carlos Vogeler, and the director of Malaga Airport, Pedro Bendala, Salado insists that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”. On Wednesday he outlined ten broad strategies designed to help the sector recover.

Having already launched a one-million-euro online promotional campaign in key European markets, the plan proposes, among other things: targeting Spanish tourists in areas with good rail connections; taking part in marketing campaigns with airports operator Aena; working with consulates to combat advice warning against travel to Spain; promoting flexibility on dates and cancellations; competitive pricing; and the use of social media and big data.

The key to this recovery, however, according to Salado will be the 270,000 foreigners with second homes (of which 160,000 are European)on the Costa del Sol. “They will be our best ambassadors, showing others that the Costa is back to normal,” he said.

Daredevil walkway

These broad strategies will be backed up by a number of specific actions too. The first will be to reopen what has become inland Malaga’s star attraction, the Caminito del Rey daredevil walkway. Salado said that they were already working with the local town halls and the operator with a view to reopening on 29 May.

“Reopening on the 29th will depend on the conditions set by the government and whether Malaga province can enter into phase one of the lockdown easing. If we get the answer we’re looking for, we’ll reopen the ticketing platform on 14 May,” he said.

Safe beaches

Salado also revealed that a system to control the capacity on the beaches of Malaga province was being tested in Torremolinos and Rincón de la Victoria.

After pushing for the use of beaches to be included the second phase of lockdown easing, Salado explained that “the goal is to achieve safe beaches for the start of tourist season”. He explained that this system would achieve this by using “mapping tools to measure the size of the beaches in order to be able to apply the capacity restrictions established by the government to make them Covid-free zones. This tool will allow us to measure the capacity in real time”.

Tax incentives

Another new proposal revealed by Salado was that of reducing the IVA payable by golf courses from 21 per cent to 10 per cent and reducing it from 10 to four per cent for tourism. Salado brought these suggestions to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, during a conference call on Monday.