Check-in desks at Malaga airport last week. / salvador salas

Optimism in the Costa del Sol tourism sector over the prospects for this summer

Busy airports, full high-speed trains and reservations at hotels, restaurants and beach bars make it clear that people are keen to go on holiday again

Pilar Martínez
PILAR MARTÍNEZ

After two years when travel has been complicated, when possible at all, the hotel bookings, busy airports, full high-speed trains and reservations at restaurants and beach bars make it clear that people are keen to go on holiday again.

The Costa del Sol is starting the peak tourist season with the challenge of achieving the 7.7 million overnight stays in July and August 2019, and the aim is to reach 3.6 million in July and then beat the four million in August, which was a record in Malaga province three years ago.

The number of people using Malaga Airport this weekend was nearly back to 2019 levels, and from the beginning of June to the end of October the airlines have programmed almost 5.6 million seats to fly to the Costa del Sol, which is only 6,800 fewer than the summer before the pandemic. The president of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board, Francisco Salado, says the situation “invites optimism”.

Late bookings

The hotel sector is certainly feeling more optimistic, thanks to a flurry of last-minute bookings which means they will be increasing their forecasts for occupancy levels. They now expect 78.7% of beds to be booked in July and 77.2% in August. Hotel managers have confirmed that, despite receiving cancellations nearly every day from people who booked several months ago and have now changed their plans, these late bookings are compensating for this.

There have also been last-minute bookings for self-catering accommodation. The president of the Association of Tourism Properties in Andalucía (AVVA), Carlos Pérez-Lanzac, has said they expect 80 per cent of holiday lets on the Costa del Sol to be occupied this month, and 70% in Malaga city. “We are convinced this is going to be a good summer. People are keener to travel than they are worried about inflation,” he said.

For campsites, business is already better than it was before the pandemic. The president of the Costa del Sol Campsite Association, Emilio Domingo, says bookings are about five per cent higher than they were three years ago, at 70% in July and 80% in August. He expects them to become fully booked thanks to last-minute reservations.