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Tourists, suitcases in hand, in Malaga city centre. Ñito Salas
Costa del Sol bookings slow for Easter due to unstable weather forecast
Tourism

Costa del Sol bookings slow for Easter due to unstable weather forecast

Hoteliers report a stagnation in sales that leaves predicted figures seven per cent below those of last year, with 80.7% of rooms expected to be filled on the main days of the holiday period

Pilar Martínez

Malaga

Saturday, 23 March 2024, 15:23

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Hoteliers on the Costa del Sol expect occupancy rates to be seven per cent lower than last year this Easter as reports come of a slowdown in last-minute bookings. This opens the door to the likely launch of special offers: hotel prices for this Easter are between 6% and 8% higher than those of 2023 - the most expensive in history, as highlighted by the Costa del Sol hotels association Aehcos and consulted hotel managers.

The association has forecasted that occupancy will reach 80.7% in the peak period, from Wednesday of Holy Week to Easter Monday (1 April), and that, in the overall ten nights that comprise this first holiday period of the year, they expect to fill just 79% of their rooms.

Aehcos has been concerned about a stagnation in sales since the end of February, yet it is confident that "the rate of bookings over the next few days, in which there are still places available, will be key to confirming that the current figures have recovered and the figures for 2023 have been exceeded".

Possible rain

However, forecasts of possible rain and lower temperatures, especially at the beginning and end of Easter, are slowing down sales. José Luque, president of Aehcos, said, "For the moment, the figures are clearly below those obtained last year at Easter, although the results are different in the different areas of [Malaga] province. We have noticed in the last two weeks a stagnation in demand so we hope that last minute bookings and the weather factor can boost demand and thus increase occupancy."

Hoteliers consulted confirm this standstill and added that in the last few days they have been receiving cancellations. Even so, hotels such as the AC Marriott Málaga Palacio expect to exceed 90% occupancy from Maundy Thursday onwards and to remain above 85% for the rest of Holy Week, its director Jorge González said.

The forecasts portray the classic situation when Easter is celebrated in March, when occupancy is weighed down by factors such as competition from the recently celebrated Fallas festival in Valencia or the pull of the ski resorts, as is the case of the Sierra Nevada. In addition to this, a key element is that the airlines are still on their winter schedules, with less air capacity than in April, when the high season begins.

Early Easter

President and founder of MS Hotels Miguel Sanchez downplayed this decline in occupancy and said that despite the early Easter, March will close above the levels of the historic 2023 and that April sales are already approaching these records.

"Easter Week responds to the usual profile when it coincides with the month of March, in which, as is happening, the risks of meteorological instability mark the wavering demand for a sun and beach destination. The year is looking very good and the summer is selling at a good pace," he said.

In the same vein, the hotel chain with the most beds in the capital of the Costa del Sol, Soho Boutique Hotels, also expects a good occupancy this Easter, noting that its nine hotels will close with an average of 85% of the rooms full and that sales are going well for the high season.

Aehcos anticipates that in Easter Week - from 22 March to 1 April - 78.5% of accommodation will be full, and from 27 March to 1 April, coinciding with the five busiest nights, the average occupancy rate will rise to 80.7%. In both periods the figures are lower than in 2023, when occupancy was 84.2% and 87.8% respectively in Malaga province, which includes the Costa del Sol.

As for the destinations in the province that will perform best, Ronda and Malaga city are once again in the leading positions. Aehcos expects that for the ten nights over Easter, Ronda will lead hotel occupancy with a figure of 87%, above that of the 86% for Nerja, 82.9% for Malaga city and the 81.9% expected in Benalmádena.

Tourist rentals

On the other hand, tourist rental properties in Malaga city are expecting full occupancy during the main Easter period: Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. The data is provided by the Association of Professionals of Tourist Homes and Apartments of Andalucía (AVVAPro), which confirmed a strong increase in demand - higher than last year's record.

This group said that 70% of holiday rentals properties are already booked, a figure that is 8% higher than in 2023. "With last minute bookings, the sector expects that in some areas, such as the city centre and nearby neighbourhoods, the 'full' sign will be hung from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday," AVVAPro said.

The association said that 66% of the guests expected in Malaga city this Easter are forecast to be international holidaymakers, despite this being a traditional Spanish festivity.

In inland areas of Malaga province, expectations are for an occupancy rate of 65% on the key days, which is also lower than last year. Despite this, Ruralidays, the largest rural tourism platform in Andalucía, said that bookings from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday are seven per cent above the average for the region.

"We expect occupancy to rise by between three and five per cent thanks to last minute sales. However, it is somewhat lower than last year as this year the holiday falls in March instead of April," Ruralidays' co-founder Félix Zea said.

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