Costa del Sol hoteliers say Christmas holiday bookings are being hit by Omicron concerns

File photograph of Puerto Banús in Marbella. / SUR

Until 2 January, the trade association Aehcos forecasts hotel occupancy rates of 65.88 per cent in Marbella, which tops the list, followed by Malaga city with 61.37, Fuengirola with 48.46 and Ronda with 40 per cent

The spread of the Omicron variant has put tourism in check on the Costa del and in Malaga province and has hit the hoteliers’ forecasts for this Christmas season. And the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus infections has already seen the closure of some hotels for the winter season, that had initially planned to stay open throughout the year.

The hoteliers association on the Costa del Sol, Aehcos, has now issued its room occupancy forecasts for the festive period, from Christmas Eve until 2 January 2022, which reveals 55.8 per cent of the available places will be occupied. It is far from the 78 per cent average achieved before the pandemic, despite the fact that now more hotels have closed due to the drop in demand from international travellers and the wave of cancellations due to the increase in infections.

Coronavirus uncertainty accelerates winter closure of Costa de Sol hotels

Aehcos points out that “just when the sector began to regain confidence and international tourism seemed to take off, the new variant of Covid-19 has once again put the province’s hotel sector in check.” So much so that it says, “The optimistic forecasts that were put forward in November for the end of the year have once again been hit by the high rate of infections in recent days.”

Message of hope

Despite this, the president of the association, José Luque, had a message of hope: “It is a setback, but we trust that the recovery will be quick once the incidence is reduced again. Let’s hope that vaccination progresses at a good pace and that, together with the immunity that we are acquiring, we can enjoy a much better 2022.”

During the Christmas period some 57% of the expected arrivals to the province’s hotel are Spanish travellers. Marbella tops the list of popular destinations with a 65.88 per cent room occupancy rate. It is followed by Malaga city, with 61.37 per cent, Fuengirola with 48.46 per cent and Ronda with 40 per cent. On the other hand, the municipalities with the lowest occupancy rates are Mijas, with 23.15 per cent, and Frigiliana and Torrox, each with 20 per cent.

Currently there are 71 hotels closed in Malaga province, some 21 per of the total, accounting for 30,271 beds, some 36 per cent of the overall offer.