Sculpture to the hospitality sector in Calle Molina Lario in Malaga city. / sur

Hospitality sector ended peak season in Malaga with more employment and higher turnover than before the pandemic

11 October is designated the Day of Hospitality, but this year it is not all celebration because profits were not as high as they could have been due to inflation and energy costs

JUAN SOTO Malaga

Malaga’s hospitality sector expects to close this year’s peak season with 11% more employment than in 2021 and turnover similar to 2019, before the pandemic. According to figures from the Ministry of Work, more than 96,000 people were employed in the sector and in August over 101,000 were registered with Social Security, a record number of contracts in a year marked by economic uncertainty.

Today, 11 October, is the Day of Hospitality, which celebrates the contribution of the sector to the economy in the summer. However, despite the positive figures, local bsiness association Mahos has pointed out that profits have not been as high as they could have been because of inflation and energy costs.

Mahos president Javier Frutos said that in peak tourist season Malaga accounted for one in every three employees in the sector in Andalucía, and had issued over 40,000 contracts more than the next province on the list, Seville.

“The hospitality sector has once again fulfilled its role as a driver of the economy after the pandemic, but we must not make the mistake of thinking that companies have recovered completely,” he stressed.

Electricity bills have tripled

Rising inflation, Frutos said, has been a huge impediment for the nearly 13,000 hospitality businesses in the province to return to where they were financially in 2019, and energy costs have been one of the biggest problems. The average bill for a restaurant can be between 3,000 and 6,000 euros now, depending on the size, location and the services it provides.

The sector has taken action to improve energy consumption and make it more efficient, but financial assistance and support should have been provided, Frutos said, and no grants were made available for the installation of renewable energy sources.

Uncertainty continues

With regard to the prospects during this final quarter of the year and in early 2023, the sector expects the level of business to drop although the extent to which this is so cannot be known. Although peak season for businesses on the coast is longer now and even stretches into October, Javier Frutos said clients are spending less than they used to and are less affluent, due to the loss of purchasing power from increasing interest rates.

He also pointed out that just over 25% of tourism-related businesses in the province are in the hospitality sector in Malaga city, while Malaga province itself is home to 28% of hospitality businesses in Andalucía and 4.5% of all those in Spain.