Benalmádena beach last weekend. The fine weather in May has helped the tourism figures. / karl smallman

Hotel occupancy on the Costa del Sol back to pre-pandemic levels in May

Bookings for the next three months are lower than expected but the sector is optimistic because many tourists nowadays are making their reservations later than they used to

SUR Malaga

May has been a good month for the hotel sector in Malaga province, possibly because of the long weekend at the beginning of the month and the good weather ever since. Occupancy levels have been similar to pre-pandemic levels, at 78.74% compared with 78.49% in the same month in 2019.

Despite this, bookings for June, July and August are lower than hoped, although the president of the Aehcos hoteliers association, José Luque, says there is still room for optimism. “We think that in the end the figures will be very similar or only slightly lower than those in 2019, because it seems that tourists are booking later these days,” he says.

Initial estimations for June show occupancy levels of 78.53%, compared with 83.78% three years ago, although international visitors will account for 70% of the total.

Peak holiday month

For July, normally a peak holiday month, at present it doesn't look as if hotel occupancy will differ much from June: 78.79% compared with 84.20% in 2019. And August, the busiest month of all, is looking “worrying,” Luque says, because at the moment it looks as if the hotels will be 77.27% full whereas in 2019 the figure was 89.73%.

With regard to destinations, Aehcos has seen little variation between June and July. In August, some resorts such as Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Marbella, and Malaga city are looking popular and occupancy figures in those should be around 80%, or 83.60% in the case of Fuengirola.

Full picture can be seen later in the year

For Aehcos, apart from the hotel occupancy figures and their impact on the Malaga economy, another indication that the sector is finally getting back to normal after the pandemic will be the number of international tourists who have chosen the Costa del Sol as a holiday destination. This will not be known until later in the year: in the autumn, it will be possible to give an overview of how 2022 is going in terms of tourism.