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Campsites were full in July and August and expect to return to 2019 levels from October

Malaga province has 34 campsites and they have been as busy as before the pandemic as well as attracting a new generation of clients

The campsites of the province are the big winners of the summer, because their 17,000 camping pitches and 3,500 bungalows were completely full in July and August. The figures confirm the recovery to pre-pandemic levels, and even exceeded those of 2019 from the second half of July to the end of August, says the president of the Costa del Sol Campsites Association, Emilio Domingo.

"I have good reason to smile, because the summer has been really good, much better than expected. We have had the No Vacancies sign up every day from mid-July, and the demand continued until just a few days ago, whereas before it used to fall once the Malaga Fair started," says Emilio, as he greets some of his clients in the Valle-Niza campsite.

He is also feeling optimistic about the second high season for this type of accommodation, which is from October to March or April. Most of the clients at that time of year bring their motorhomes from central Europe to the Costa del Sol and stay for at least a month. In fact, most of them come for three months.

"They tend to be retired couples who come here in the winter to get away from the cold weather in their own countries. They are very keen to come this year because they have had the Covid vaccine and want to enjoy all the activities that the campsites organise for them again, such as gastronomy days, excursions and yoga sessions, which had to be cancelled last year," says Emilio.

"Vaccination has played an important role this summer and in the number of bookings we have for October, because it gives people extra protection as well as the strict Covid protocols that we have in place, which everyone has complied with. We have had no problems in that respect at all," he says.

The bookings for the first two weeks in October correspond to 62 per cent occupancy, which is four or five percentage points higher than the same time in 2019.

"Nearly all these clients are foreigners and they can't wait to come. About 90 per cent of them travel in their motorhomes," he explains.

Emilio thinks the key to this summer's success and that of the forthcoming second peak season is that, due to the pandemic, many families and young people decided it would be best to go somewhere with plenty of outdoor space, and many of them had never been on a campsite holiday before so it has attracted a whole new generation of clients.

"Around 20 per cent of visitors had never tried this type of accommodation before. From what they have said to us, a lot of them will be doing it again next year, now that they have discovered that it is not so different to other types of holiday. Campsites have evolved as well; they are no longer only designed for people who come with their own tents, so they have mobile homes and bungalows which are as well equipped as any holiday apartment," he says.

It is true that international tourism has been much lower this summer, but the numbers have been made up by Spanish travellers, who represented 90 per cent of campsite visitors in the province of Malaga.

Emilio Domingo also says he is grateful to the authorities for all they have done to stop motorhome and caravan sites which do not comply with the Tourism regulations.

"We have nothing against motorhome parking areas in general, but we are against the ones which do not comply with the rules for this type of activity, because what we want is quality tourism and that can only be achieved by obeying the law. In these times of the pandemic it is more important than ever to insist on that. It is essential that everyone complies with all the safety and cleaning measures, because those are things which our clients are most concerned about," he says.