Friday, 19 May 2023, 11:02
Tourism is the economic engine of Malaga province, not only because of the income it generates, but also because of its ability to generate jobs. This engine has, in the first quarter of this year, already created more employment than in the best year thus far for this sector.
So much so that 17 out of every hundred employed in the province now work in this sector, according to the latest tourism employment report for the Costa del Sol. The data indicates that in the first three months of the year 116,042 people were in employment in companies in the industry.
These numbers confirm the recovery of tourism, with 10,000 more jobs generated than in the same quarter of 2019, up by around nine per cent on pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the report on the current state of tourism produced by the Costa del Sol tourist board.
More surprisingly, in this first quarter of 2023, the number of companies in the industry is lower. There are 61 fewer tourist businesses registered than in pre-pandemic times, currently totalling 12,459.
Companies in the busy accommodation sector have led the increase in job creation. In fact, the good results in the first quarter, the low season, have been strongly felt in the job market.
Despite difficulties in finding workers (tourism coming to a standstill for two years due to the pandemic caused a massive exodus of the workforce), companies in the accommodation sector - hotels, tourist apartments, rural cottages and campsites - have closed the quarter with 14.2% more staff officially on the payroll.
According to the Costa del Sol tourism employment report, across the province there are already more than 18,300 workers in the accommodation sector; this has also exceeded half a million beds filled for the first time in this period.
With high demand for staff, the growth last March was noticeable as the number of guests in all types of accommodation increased.
Nearly half a million tourists stayed in hotels, which is 27.3% more than in the same month of 2022, with a notable increase in the number of foreigners: 34.2% more.
Likewise, last month overnight stays in hotels increased by 19%. The data strongly suggest that the sector has turned the final page on the pandemic since, with the exception of the length of stay (still close to 2019 figures), all other statistics already exceed pre-Covid record levels.
Campsites were the first to recover trading to pre-pandemic levels. In March they pulled in 71% more customers, who also increased the number of nights booked by 17%. The boom in travel to wide open spaces, connecting with nature, has smashed all records for rural tourism, gaining 134% more visitors and 74% more bookings last March compared to the same month in 2019.
The figures in the accommodation sector alone speak for themselves. The group as a whole - that is, hotels, tourist apartments, rural cottages and campsites - closed the quarter with more than one million guests booked in, 5% more than before the pandemic, and 4.5 million overnight stays, 0.3% fewer than in 2019.
In the case of the restaurant sector, which employs the most workers, the recovery is very similar. In fact, 72% of the employees in the Costa del Sol tourism industry in the first quarter - 83,130 people - work in the hospitality sector, which represents an increase of 9.1% compared to the same period last year.
Besides the growth, a more in-depth look at this market highlights that 84% of employees in the tourism sector are salaried, with 66.3% on permanent contract. It is also worth noting that eight out of ten staff work a full day.
What is striking is that all areas of tourism have generated more employment than last year, from accommodation and restaurants to travel agencies, transport, car rentals and leisure companies.
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