Every year, the Easter holiday period normally kicks off the tourist season on the Costa del Sol.
However, more than a year after the first case of coronavirus was detected in Spain the situation is still critical with the threat of the fourth wave hovering. Many beach businesses, therefore, have decided to postpone their reopening until later in the year.
José Ravira Díaz, the Marbella representative of the Costa del Sol bBeach Entrepreneurs Association estimates that of the slightly more than 60 beach bars in the town "there are between 20 and 25 open", only a third.
Ravira runs Pepes Bar, located in the heart of Marbella, on the La Venus beach. It is an emblematic establishment that has been open since 1969.
"I was thinking of opening at Easter but seeing what there is, I have decided not to risk it because our products, mainly fish and vegetables, are perishable and what is not sold ends up being thrown away," he explained.
“Yesterday I spoke with someone who has 17 employees and he served four meals so, if it continues like this, he will close again when the Easter holidays are over," he added.
In his own case, José has 11 employees and currently it is not financially viable to open with the entire workforce, so he has decided that "if it improves, I will open from 15th with five or six staff."
Ravira said that, in general, between 70 and 75 per cent of tourism at Easter is national, and many of the visitors have a second home in Marbella.
"During the rest of spring the figures stabilise until summer arrives and in June and July most tourists are foreigners," he said, "but now there are neither Spaniards nor foreigners."
“Years ago most of the beach bar owners had another profession. The season was much shorter, starting in June and ending at the end of September and then we would go back to our jobs. Now, there are many who, until the health crisis, opened throughout the year, and have nothing else to fall back on," he said.
José points out that owners have had to continue paying taxes and fees: "The national government has not reduced our taxes one cent," he complained, although he did acknowledge the assistance the businesses have received from the town council with a reduction in their rates.