Two of the cruise ships that docked in Malaga Port on Friday. / SALVADOR SALAS

Wave of seven cruise ships dock in Malaga this Sunday but most shops in the city centre will be closed

The city council said it regrets the sight of lowered shutters and locked doors that tourists will find and believes that an opportunity to make money is being missed by local traders

MATIAS STUBER MALAGA.

Lowered shutters and doors locked shut. That is the image that cruise passengers arriving in Malaga this Sunday will find, a day on which seven cruise ships are expected to arrive at the city's port.

The ships that will dock throughout the 6 November, have a total capacity of 11,340 passengers. Most will choose to visit the historic centre of the city, also becoming potential customers.

However, these cruise passengers will not have many options where to buy a souvenir from Malaga or acquire some gastronomic product because most of the shops will remain closed.

Juanibel Vera is the president of the city centre’s traders' association. Speaking to SUR, she confirmed that the image of lowered shutters, which is not new, will be repeated this Sunday: “It is very difficult to make an exact estimate of how many are going to open. Maybe there is someone who is encouraged to open at the last minute. But, at most, it will be 30% of the businesses.”

Not enough employees

The president of the traders, generally, is in favour of opening and advocates establishing a common criterion. For Vera, the massive arrival of cruise passengers represents an opportunity to bring customers into the establishments, although she also recognises that many small businesses run into the problem that they do not have enough employees to open on a Sunday. “Covid has caused the owners to become, on many occasions, the only employees in the business. And they take advantage of Sundays to rest and do their own thing”, she pointed out.

Councilor Elisa Pérez de Siles of the Malaga City Council, is aware of the difficulties that small businesses are going through. But she advocates more flexibility in situations like the ones that occur this Sunday. “Maybe they can change the rest day and make it a Monday or Tuesday. In the end, there could be 6,000 potential customers on Calle Larios and they will find the shops closed”, she explained to SUR.

High purchasing power

Pérez de Siles also reminded that, according to the law, any establishment up to 350 square metres can open as it deems appropriate.

When asked if it is profitable or not to open with the arrival of the large ships, Vera pointed out that it depends on the type of cruise. “You have to look at the company. Those who come in on one with high purchasing power will spend the most. But then there are also those who will only buy a fridge magnet in a shop”, she said.

There are more voices that highlight the benefits that cruise passengers have for the city's economy. The president of the Port Authority, Carlos Rubio, highlighted that "we are experiencing what would be the maximum week of influx of ships in the port of Malaga".

“It coincides, as always, outside the high season for general tourism. This data shows, once again, that cruise traffic helps deseasonalise tourism in our destination, providing wealth when the rest of the sectors are in low season”, he added.

The councillor for Tourism, Jacobo Florido, highlighted that cruises "are a segment to be taken into account."

“Our work is focused on trying to increase Malaga's development as a base port for cruise ships. For this, we work together with all the local players”, he assured.

One of these players, the small business, has not just not got on this wave of cruises.