Passengers waiting to check-in at Malaga Airport. / ÑITO SALAS

“We have to welcome British visitors with open arms this first post-Brexit summer,” says tourism boss

Manuel Butler, the head of the Spanish Tourism Office in London, says the number of visitors from the UK should be back to pre-pandemic levels this summer and they need to be treated well

PILAR MARTÍNEZ Malaga

At a recent meeting with representatives from the Costa del Sol tourism sector, Manuel Butler of the Spanish Tourism Office in London said the UK continues to be the biggest source market for the region and these visitors need to be welcomed with open arms and treated well.

He said the tourism authorities are aware of possible delays at airport passport controls and they have assigned more police officers and automated some processes to save time.

Manuel Butler hosted the event with representatives of the Costa del Sol tourism sector. / SUR

“We have to be alert to ensure there are no problems with this first post-Brexit summer,” he told those attending the event, and warned that he cannot see anything positive about Portugal’s decision to allow UK travellers to enter the country as if they were from the EU. “The effect might be neutral or it might be negative, we will have to see,” he said, and confirmed that he has not been told that Spain will be doing the same, although “that doesn’t mean it won’t happen”.

Sustainability

When asked about the profile of British tourists who can be expected to visit the Costa del Sol after two years of pandemic, he said more people appear to be concerned about sustainability now and if they are looking at two possible destinations which are similar in price and quality, they are likely to choose the one which is more sustainable. He explained that marketing is important so people know that hotels on the Costa del Sol have reduced their energy consumption and carbon footprint, and are replacing single-use plastics with more ecological products.

As for the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the UK market, he said Turkey will be more affected than southern Spain because it is normally a favourite holiday destination for Russians. As the number of visitors to Turkey is likely to drop considerably in the context of the Ukraine situation, Turkey is likely to reduce its prices considerably in order to attract more visitors from other countries, and the UK and Germany in particular. However, by ensuring high quality and making visitors feel welcome, the Costa del Sol will still be the most popular destination for travellers from the UK.