The south of Spain sweltered this summer as temperatures soared. SUR
Fewer Spanish tourists holidayed on the Costa del Sol this summer, and this is why

Fewer Spanish tourists holidayed on the Costa del Sol this summer, and this is why

Northern destinations in Spain are benefiting as more domestic tourists head there instead

Pilar Martínez


Friday, 27 October 2023, 13:18


Fewer Spanish tourists visited the Costa del Sol this peak summer season and opted for the cooler destinations in the north of Spain instead, according to new data.

The Alliance for Excellence in Tourism (Exceltur) noticed unprecedented growth in northern Spain from both Spanish tourists and foreigners as the southern part of the country sweltered this summer.

Hotels on the Costa del Sol lost 9.5% of stays by Spanish tourists in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, almost half-a-million fewer nights booked by home visitors, according to the figures. Traditionally, the Spanish have flocked to the Costa del Sol in search of a cheap beach getaway, often throwing the region a lifeline with the amount of money pumped into the local economy in previous high seasons, but this year points to a shift and climate change could be the cause.

Decline in domestic demand

Less Spanish tourists on the coast meant this September failed to reach five million overnight stays, which it did in 2022 achieving 5.2 million. The decline in domestic demand worsened in the summer months, coinciding with when fares jumped the most. June recorded an 11.3% drop in stays by Spanish tourists compared to the same period last year. In July, there were 12.2% fewer overnight stays than in 2022. In this month alone, hotels lost 116,758 stays by the Spanish, according to the data. The drop worsened in August and stood at 11.2% compared to the same period in 2022, which means hotels recorded 118,337 fewer nights booked by domestic tourists. During this period, visitors paid an average of 180 euros to sleep in a hotel in the province, 5% more than in 2022 and 30% more than before the pandemic. September registered a 10.7% increase compared to the same period last year.

Experts are pointing to expensive hotel prices amid rising inflation as the cause behind less domestic tourists, as well as rising mortgages and costs for electricity and fuel. The average price per room last September in the province of Malaga was 137.24 euros, 29% more than what tourists paid in September 2019. The rate is also well above the Spanish and national average of 116 and 115 euros.

The best records in the north

The Exceltur data showed a tourist bonanza in northern Spain this summer due to "the northern regions being less exposed to heat waves". It led to a 27% growth in the Basque Country and Galicia, 26% in Asturias and 15% in Cantabria. Foreign tourists to these northern destinations, mainly Asturias, also grew with an increase of 31.2% and 28.6% in the Basque Country.

More tourists in these areas results in more money being pumped into the local economy. Although Ibiza and Formentera lead the levels of revenue per room among coastal holiday destinations, 183.3 euros on average in July and August in 2023, with an increase of 34.9% compared to 2019, it is San Sebastian which, with 191 euros, ranks first among Spanish cities, having grown by 19.9%. Oviedo also recorded an increase of 40% more tourism revenue spent.

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