The outlook for autumn tourism is not bad at present. / sur

Hotel occupancy is higher than in the summer of 2019 but profitability is down

The Aehcos hoteliers association says some Costa del Sol establishments have been more than 90% full this month, especially in Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola and Nerja

Ivan Gelibter

More tourists have travelled to Malaga province in July and August this year than in the summer of 2019, the last one before the pandemic. It looks as if tourism on the Costa del Sol has recovered, at least in terms of visitor numbers. The Aehcos hoteliers association says the average occupancy rate for August has been 88.08%, which is good news, but profitability is down because of the disproportionate increase in costs, especially for energy.

“The summer has been better than expected, despite the difficulties we have had to face such as strikes and delays at European airports,” said Aehcos president José Luque, who also pointed out that there has been a drop in the biggest source markets for the Costa del Sol this year, such as Germany (-26.1%), France (-15.9%), UK (-13.6%), and Ireland (- 11.6%), among others.

Luque predicts that in September 60% of tourists will be from abroad, and 65% in October. In August, the most popular resorts appeared to be Torremolinos, with 93.76% hotel occupancy, Benalmádena (93.71%), Fuengirola (91.75%) Nerja (91.31%), and in Málaga, Marbella, Mijas and the Axarquía the figures have not been much lower.

Soaring costs

However, costs for hoteliers have soared. José Luque said that electricity has gone up by 240% and gas and raw materials by more than 30%.

“With figures like that it is difficult to talk about the sector recovering. The occupancy levels have improved and demand for the Costa del Sol has been high, but we have to be realistic: we are going to have to wait quite a while before we can talk about a definite recovery,” he said.

Looking ahead, Aehcos is concerned because at the moment bookings for late summer and autumn are lower than they were at this time in 2019. It is estimating an average occupancy rage of 81.44% in September, 70.23% in October and 57.05% in November.

At present, Fuengirola is the municipality where demand is highest for September, at 87.93% , and in October it is La Axarquía region with 80.26%. In November, Malaga and Benalmadena top the list at around 65%.

“These figures just give us an idea for now. We will have to see what effect inflation and costs in the autumn have on the behaviour of tourists,” Luque said.