As Semana Santa looms, Costa del Sol residents are bracing themselves for the annual influx of tourists with this year predicted to bring larger numbers than 2015.
The season begins today and the airports are expecting over half a million tourists on over 3,000 flights scheduled to arrive from today until Monday 28th. The effects will be felt across the country as the entire transport network feels the pressure, from road to rail and from sea to sky.
Airlines have over half a million seats available on flights to and from Málaga with the busiest day set to be Sunday 27th when there are 354 flights due to land at Andalucia’s busiest airport. Monday 28th will also be a manic day with 323 flights due with a total of 54,814 booked seats.
Following last year’s successful season airlines have increased the number of available seats and the frequency of flights, despite this year’s festivities coming earlier. Usually when Easter is early fewer seats are available as the ski season is still active but this year airlines are ready for the extra travellers who may otherwise have visited Tunisia, Turkey or Egypt, locations that are seeing a huge drop in visitor numbers to due to security concerns.
Málaga’s roads are also expected to suffer under the strain of the visitors. Over half a million long-haul road journeys are expected to make your daily commute that little bit longer.
Hoteliers in the region are predicting a small increase in bookings of 2% compared to the same period last year with their busiest time being from Palm Sunday (20th) to Holy Saturday (26th) with an average occupation of 80%. The figure could increase due to last minute bookings but as always, this will depend on the weather. Of course, those of us who live here know all too well that Semana Santa usually guarantees at least a little rain!
Coastal hotels often notice a marked difference in bookings between the first week of the festival and the second with a first week occupancy of 75% rising to 86% in the second week.
Spring is also the time that the golf travellers begin to arrive in Spain, and as a result, you will find increases in prices of green fees on many courses. Also you may find you need to book in advance as some courses will also restrict daily player capacity. El Chaparral Golf in La Cala de Mijas, for example, has a maximum player capacity of 200 players per day on both Holy Tuesday and Holy Thursday.
Remember that the Semana Santa parades are a must-see and you can find one in most towns and cities. Holy effigies, holy dress, music and fun will fill the streets and although you may have to park miles away you should definitely see at least one parade if you can.
Expect to see traffic building up, queues getting longer, parking spaces becoming sparse and the beaches filling up (weather permitting) over the next few days and continuing for the next two weeks. Remember that once it’s over the tourists go home and the coast is ours once more. Well, until the summer season begins anyway.
Of course, the regions businesses will receive a well needed financial injection over the holidays so despite how busy it can be we should be grateful that so many tourists choose the Costa del Sol for their Easter getway.