August holiday bookings on the Costa stagnate due to increased travel restrictions

A passenger leaves Malaga train station to start their holiday.
A passenger leaves Malaga train station to start their holiday. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • The British market has not recovered as expected, Germany has declared Spain a high-risk travel zone and not so many Spanish are taking holidays

The fifth wave of coronavirus infections in Spain has swept away the summer expectations of the hotel sector on the coast with a flood of cancellations in the last two weeks. And there are signs that the reservations for August are stagnating - even those made by Spanish holidaymakers, who until now have been the lifesavers of the season.

A week after the arrival of fully-vaccinated British tourists to the Costa del Sol, the tourism sector on the coast has not witnessed the numbers of holidaymakers expected. The travellers, who are exempt from quarantine when they return to England, still have to present up to two PCR tests upon return.

And now, as from today, 27 July, all Germans who return from Spanish destinations must quarantine for ten days, unless they have the complete vaccination schedule.

Holland and Belgium put Spain in the red ‘high-risk’ travel zones, something that the Netherlands changed again yesterday by returning it to amber.

The different measures that are being taken to stop infections in each region, with the reappearance of curfews in some areas, or the obligation to have a vaccination certificate to enter hospitality and leisure venues in others cause confusion and uncertainty, which are the worst travel companions for the tourism industry.

Some industry professionals are already readjusting budgets for August, convinced that the income will not be as expected. Just last week a hotelier on the coast received cancellations worth 60,000 euros in a single day, a situation that, he says, he had never experienced before.

José Luque, the president of the Aehcos hotelier’s association in Malaga, said that two or three weeks ago the outlook for August was more positive, but after two weeks of cancellations due to the new travel restrictions from different countries and of Spaniards reluctance to take holidays the forecast turnover for the month has dropped 10 points (from 70 to 60 per cent), compared to the same period before the pandemic.

And now, Luque expects a hotel occupancy rate of 62 per cent in August, "which is not a wonderful figure for the quintessential month of holidays."

The association’s president has also noted there appears to be a reluctance to take a holiday among the Spanish. “We hope that the vaccination rate advances to see if, in September and October, we can recover part of the summer because the incidence of infections decreases.”

European Covid-19 Digital Certificate

“We are confident that we will be past the peak of the fifth wave when, on the 4 August, the United Kingdom revisits its travel ‘traffic light’ list. Let's hope it doesn't happen to us what happened with France, which has gone to amber plus, the previous step to being in the red."

The president of the Tourism Council of the Confederation of Hotel Entrepreneurs of Andalusia (CEA), Miguel Sánchez, adds, “The summer is not performing as we expected. There are high occupations, by the Spanish, on weekends but then on Sunday it suddenly drops off.”

Sánchez is confident in the return of the Dutch after moving to Spain to amber, but regrets the weak return of the British, which he attributes to the fact that not all members of the families are fully-vaccinated and the extra cost and discomfort of the mandatory PCR tests. He also said that the European Covid-19 Digital Certificate has not had the intended effect.