The reactivation of tourism on the Costa del Sol continues to hang on Covid-19 pandemic control restrictions in the United Kingdom, after Boris Johnson’s government confirmed this Thursday (3 June) that Spanish destinations continue to be considered ‘unsafe’ for holidays and travellers will need to quarantine and test on their return.
The UK’s Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps, actually went further and urged the British not to go on holiday to countries at amber on the safe travel list, such as Spain, which is a preferred travel destination for the British and the main international market for the Costa del Sol.
The announcement that Spain was still considered unsafe in the new UK update generated concern among professionals in the hotel sector on the coast, who will have to wait at least three weeks until the list is reviewed again.
The reopening of hotels and the success of the high season will depend on this, with the sector pointing out that half of the establishments are still closed in June.
On Thursday the Costa del Sol hotel business association (Aehcos) announced that after closing May with 40.96 per cent of the establishments open and 38 per cent occupancy, they start June with 48 per cent still closed and with occupancy forecasts of 40.4 per cent this month. There are still 151 hotels to reopen, representing more than 40,400 beds.
The opening up of tourism on the coast is uneven. Malaga and Estepona, lead the recovery with more than 80 per cent of beds available, but Nerja and Mijas are at the back of the queue without yet managing to reach 30 per cent, according to Aehcos.
Torremolinos, the town with the largest volume of beds on the coast, only has 60.7 per cent of its hotel offer in operation. Inland, Ronda already has 67 per cent of its places ready to receive tourists compared to Antequera, which has 35 per cent.
The president of Aehcos, José Luque, acknowledges that the sector is at a crucial moment. “We are facing the beginning of the recovery with some optimism, but the situation in markets such as the British, which keep Spain on an amber traffic light gives concern.”
He stresses that the reopening of hotels in June and the success of summer is dependent on foreign governments making decisions that allow the Costa del Sol to welcome foreign customers, who represent between 65 and 70 per cent of the business, “and especially the British market which in 2019 accounted for 27 per cent of total overnight stays," he says.
The concern on the Costa is greater after learning that Portugal lasted only three weeks as a ‘safe’ destination and has now turned to amber for detecting 68 cases of a new Indian variant of the coronavirus doubling the number of infections.