Costa del Sol tourism set for record year

Costa del Sol tourism set for record year

After a record Easter week and a solid first quarter, Costa del Sol tourism expects a record year for visitor figures and hotel occupancy. The optimism covers the entire area, with the cities of Malaga and Marbella as stand-out locations for the highest figures. 

Q1 data exceeds pre-pandemic figures 

2019 registered the best year ever for Costa del Sol tourism regarding visitor figures. However, if the latest data is anything to go by, 2023 could well exceed the pre-pandemic record. 

Two sources indicate the force of tourism this year. Firstly, the statistics from Malaga Airport show almost 1.5 million passengers in Q1 this year. The figure is more than 25% higher than the same period in 2022 and 9% higher than 2019, before the pandemic. 

Secondly, data for occupancy indicates that 1.04 million visitors stayed at hotels on the Costa del Sol between January and February. This represents a 25% uptick on 2022 and also a 6.4% increase compared to 2019. 

As a result, Costa del Sol tourism, in terms of visitor figures and hotel occupancy, is already on track to exceed the record set in 2019. 

Record Easter week 

According to the Association of Costa del Sol Hotel Businesses (AEHCOS), hotel occupancy reached 84.23% during Easter week. The figure is considerably above 2022 levels (75.84%), although it still remains below the occupancy rates registered in 2019 when they reached 86%. 

However, in some parts of the Costa del Sol, hotels were practically full. Marbella is a case in point, with hotels and restaurants packed to capacity over the holiday weekend. “The results were better than expected,” said Laura de Arce, Director of Marbella Tourism, “and this leads us to predict a record high season, with higher levels than before the pandemic.”

Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, also experienced almost full occupancy during the height of Easter week. 

Holiday lets also busy 

No official statistics record occupancy levels in private holiday lets but data from holiday letting portals indicates the rates. For example, according to Holidu, occupancy reached 85% on the Costa del Sol during Easter. 

Benalmádena and Torremolinos led the rankings, with levels of 89% and 86%, respectively. Marbella reached 83%, while in next-door Estepona, occupancy stood at 82%. 

Predictions for Costa del Sol holiday lets in 2023

Based on the figures so far this year, industry analysts believe that the vacation rental sector will also enjoy a buoyant 2023. “If we look at the data so far, holiday let occupancy has exceeded all expectations,” said Jaime del Rio, Director of the vacation rental management portal, Bookiply, in Andalusia. “We’re therefore predicting full occupancy this summer.” 

Average prices for holiday lets 

According to Holidu, the average daily rate (ADR) for holiday lets on the Costa del Sol at Easter was €142. However, advertised prices in many resorts are far higher for this year. 

For example, holiday lets in Marbella can expect an ADR of €203, the most expensive on the Costa del Sol. The rate in Estepona averages around €163, with the ADR in Mijas a considerably lower €136. 

Over 5 million scheduled airline seats 

Airlines have picked up on the surge in popularity of the Costa del Sol and are betting on a busy summer. According to the regional tourist board, arrivals at Malaga Airport are set to increase by 12.2% this summer. 

The uptick translates to over 5 million available seats for travel between May and September this year, an increase of 553,000 compared to the same period in 2019. 

(Source: AEHCOS, Holidu, Visit Costa del Sol)