Spanish Hotels Enjoyed a Busy February

February was another great month for tourism in Spain with the number of overnight stays increasing to 16.3 million, an increase of 12.4%, when compared to the same month in 2015.

Hotels reported an average cost per night of 76.6 Euros, representing an annual increase of 7.9%.

The increase in overnight stays applies to both Spanish residents and non-residents with increases of 11.2% and 13.3% respectively. The average length of a stay was unchanged when compared to the previous year, standing at 2.9 nights per traveller.

Cumulatively, the first two months of 2016 showed an increase of 10.4% over the previous year.

Overnight Stays Spain Feb 2016


Andalucia topped the list of most popular destinations with Spanish resident travellers with an increase of 15.1% in the number of overnight stays in the region. Madrid followed closely with a 13.3% increase while Valencia and Catalonia also managed significant increases registering increases of 14.2% and 11.1% respectively.

For non-residents the first choice destination was the Canary Islands who claimed 51.1% of all overnight stays, an increase of 10.6%. Following in second place, but quite some way behind, was Catalonia who recorded 14.7% of the total overnight stays, an increase of 17.2% over the same period last year. Andalucia was next with a 10.3% increase, representing 11.9% of the total overnight stays during February.


Hotels reported 49.1% occupancy for February, showing an annual increase of 7.6%. When looking at only the weekends, occupancy increased 6.4% ending the month with an average of 57.2% occupancy.

Hoteliers on the Canary Islands recorded the highest occupancy rates for the month with 77.9%, closely followed by Madrid and the Balearic Islands, with 53.4% and 48.9% respectively.

Within the islands, Gran Canaria reported the highest rates with 83.3% occupancy by number of available places, while Tenerife recorded the highest weekend occupancy, interestingly also 83.3%. The highest number of overnight stays on the islands was Tenerife with more than 2 million overnight stays recorded during February.

Travellers by Origin

The UK remained the largest source of travellers for February accounting for 23.8% of tourists, a massive 22.0% increase over last year. The Germans followed closely with 20.4% of travellers arriving from Germany, an increase of 2.3%.

Other European countries also saw an increase in travellers to Spain. French travellers increased 9.7%, Swedish by 16.6% while the number of Italian travellers increased 16.7%.


The increase in traveller numbers is great news for the hotel industry. The daily average price charged per occupied room was 76.6 Euros during February, representing an increase of 7.9% over the same period last year.

When looking at the hotels by category, the average turnover per occupied room was 171.2 Euros in a five-star hotel, with averages of 80.7 Euros for four-star, and 57.9 Euros for three-star. By number of available rooms, the average turnovers for five, four and three-star hotels were 111 Euros, 53.7 Euros and 33.8 Euros, respectively.


Semana Santa is Coming!

A typical Semana Santa Parade
A typical Semana Santa Parade

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.

Russians Continue to Love Spain

Russians continue to visit Spain and the Costa del Sol in great numbers and most of them stay a while and spend spend spend!

Tourists from Russia top the league of tourism average expenditure with an average of 1,499 Euros per person, considerably higher than the national average of 1,056 Euros. This amount also dwarfs that of the Germans (959 Euros) and the Brits (895 Euros).

With an eye on maintaining the popularity of the region some Russian tour operators are already adding extra flights to Iberian airports from both Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to data from AENA the number of passengers travelling to Spanish airports from Russia increased 27.3% in February, when compared to the same month in 2015.

This shows a continuation of the increase we saw in 2015 when the number of Russian passengers arriving in Málaga Airport increased 17.62% (compared to 2014) to 71,523. Other than February and November 2014, the number of airline passengers from Russia to Spain has increased every month for the last two years.

Málaga / Costa del Sol

The main source of Russian passengers arriving in Málaga Airport was Moscow accounting for 50.7% of the total, while St. Petersburg accounted for 19.2% of passengers.

The travellers specified their main reasons for visiting the Southern region were the sun and beaches, leisure activities and entertainment, culture, shopping, and gastronomy; all of which epitomise the Costa del Sol and which attract millions of tourists from all over the world year after year.

The availability of direct flights to Málaga was also mentioned as an important reason for visiting.

More than half of Russian passengers (51.3%) said they had used a travel agency to organise their visit with 15.2% of those stating that it was arranged online via a travel website.

More than 4 out of 10 Russian tourists stated that they would stay in a hotel of four or five-star rating which may account for the increased average spend.

Time and Money

Russian spending remains high
Russian spending remains high

The average length of stay for Russian travellers is also slightly above the national average of nine days standing at 10.4 days, with more than half of all Russian visitors to Spain stating that they would or have visited Málaga / Costa del Sol. Most popular among those visitors were Marbella, Málaga, Benalmadena, Nerja and Fuengirola all of which received positive reviews.

When visiting the Costa del Sol, Russian tourists spent almost 25% more per day then other tourists, with an average daily spend of 61.7 Euros per day compared to 48.5 Euros for tourists from other countries.

When asked to rate aspects of the Costa del Sol, the average for overall satisfaction with the region was 8.7 out of 10. Many individual aspects, including landscape, environment, quality and prices, all received averages above nine out of ten. The worst rating was for the coasts taxis which received an average satisfaction rating of 7.1 out of ten.

In line with increases in passenger numbers across Spain’s airports the number of Russians arriving in Málaga airport increased by 24% in the first two months of 2016.

There are now up to 10% more airline seats available for flights to Málaga this year compared to 2015. This is in part thanks to Russian Airline Aeroflot increasing connections to the region.


Andalucia To Woo French Travellers

The Salon Mondial du Tourisme de ParisContinuing the push for tourists in Andalucia, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is now on its way to the Porte de Versailles, in the French capital, to take part in the Salon Mondial du Tourisme.

Following a successful trade fair in Berlin with the aim of attracting more German travellers to the region, the Ministry has now turned its attention to the French.

There will be several displays under the section “Turespaña” which it is hoped will attract many potential travellers, as well as business contacts eager to trade in the Spanish region.

The Ministry will attend in order to showcase the attractions of Andalucia with the simple aim of increasing tourism from France, which is currently the second largest source of travellers to the region.

During 2015 Andalucian hotels recorded 803,040 travellers from France which was 11.2% more than in the previous year. Total overnight stays from French travellers recorded in 2015 increased by a huge 18.6% with over 2.4 million overnight stays recorded.

The Salon Mondial du Tourisme de Paris will run from March 17th – 20th and is considered to be one of the most important trade shows for reaching the French market. In 2015 the show received over 100,000 visitors and just short of 2,000 exhibitors.


Increase in German Visitors Expected

President of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz
Junta de Andalucía President, Susana Díaz

The world’s leading travel trade show took place in Berlin over the weekend and President of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, was there on the opening day.

Díaz is reportedly “delighted” at the prospects for German tourism in Andalucia this coming summer following a very successful show.

In 2015 the number of German tourists visiting the region increased by almost 5% and this trend appears to be continuing as there has been a 12% increase in bookings compared to the same time last year.

Increased Demand

Over 1.2 million tourists arrived in Andalucia from Germany in 2015, a 4.8% increase over 2014. These visitors accounted for 800,721 hotel nights representing a 3.1% increase. The total of overnight stays by German tourists was a massive 3.8 million. This was a rise of only 0.6%; a small yet significant increase. The average length of a visit was 11.3 days, which is slightly over the Spanish average of nine days.

Two major tour operators, FTI and TSS Group, have both indicated that they have increased their capacity for Spain because they have seen a growth in demand.

Despite the numbers suggesting a good year, Díaz pointed out that the German market had not performed as well as expected in 2015, either in Spain as a whole, or in destinations such as the Costa del Sol and Malaga city, despite up to one third of German tourists visiting those areas. She added that Andalucia was keen to see an increase in German arrivals as they are the third nationality in terms of holiday spend.

“We have come to the ITB with two things in mind: to discover new trends and products which are popular with German tourists and to promote Andalucía as a holiday destination par excellence. We offer a very extensive variety of different facilities and this is what visitors require, so we have the potential for enormous growth,” Díaz said.

According to Díaz, German tourists are loyal to Andalucia and many return to the region year after year. “I am convinced that the figures this year will be higher than last year. Germany is a great ally in terms of tourism and a key market towards our aim of achieving 30 million tourists during this legislature,” she added.

Improved Connections

As a means of ensuring the arrival of more Germans this year Díaz explained that work is required to improve air connections between the countries as this is currently the “Achilles heel in this market” adding that there is a need for extra direct flights from German airports to Malaga, Seville and Almeria.

As a results of security scares and terror threats in other popular tourist destinations, including Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, Andalucia plans to try and make the most of the extra interest in Spain. There has been a reported 40% drop in bookings to those areas. Díaz announced that they plan to invest 2 million euros to promote the area to capitalise on this with up to 50 promotional activities with a big push for Andalucian beaches, golf, health and cruises saying “We want the figures, which are already good, to become extraordinary,”.

Andalucia Promoted in Madrid

The Andalucian Ministry of Tourism and Sport has been in Madrid to promote Andalucia as a tourist spot for internal travellers.

The conference, attended by some 500 travel agents, aimed to promote the southern region to the domestic market which is the main source of tourism. More than 9.3 million domestic travellers visited Andalucia in 2015, a 4.4% increase over the previous year. Together they amassed 23.6 million overnight stays, an increase of 3.5% over 2014.

Madrid is a prime choice for this type of event as Andalucia is a first-choice destination for Madrileños (people from Madrid), second only to itself. Last year the south coast was visited by 1.4 million travellers from Madrid who accounted for 4.1 million overnight stays, increases of 4% and 3.1% respectively.

The ministry was joined by officials from the eight provincial boards and representatives from around 60 Andalucian businesses eager to promote themselves alongside the region. The aim of the meeting was to impart knowledge of the region and it’s attractions as well as to create business ties between the two areas.

Ornithological Tourism

Monfragüe National Park
Monfragüe National Park

The Ministry also attended the FIO (International Tourism Fair Ornithological) over the previous weekend which was held in the Natural Park of Monfragüe, Cáceres. The aim of this fair was to promote the area as a tourism spot for nature lovers and bird watchers. This is an increasing segment of tourism attracting 13,000 visitors last year

Andalucia has around 150 protected areas covering a total of 3.3 million hectares. Within those there are 60 Special Protection Areas (SPA) and 190 Sites of Community Interest (SCI). Together the areas protect around 300 species of animals and birds.

According to the Ministry, ornithological tourists are characterised by long stays and high average expenditure, with the average stay being 7 days and average daily spend of just over €1,000 per person.


Spanish Tourism Set For Another Great Year

Don’t expect legroom this summer!

Following yet another record breaking year for Spanish tourism, 2016 is likely to see even more tourists hitting the beaches.

In 2015 the wonders of Spain attracted a massive 54.4 million tourists to its shores. In September alone over 7 million visitors arrived, making it Spain’s busiest September on record.

Once again, the UK was the leading source sending over 12.5 million visitors our way between January and September, followed by France (9,183,150) and Germany (8,270,276) tourists.

Of course, with tourists comes spending and in 2015 this was another record figure. The total expenditure by non-resident tourists throughout 2015 stood at a massive 67,385 million Euros, representing a 6.8% increase over 2014. Most of that money came from British tourists. According to INE, those Brits everyone criticises spent a huge 14,057 million Euros in 2015. So I’m sure Spain can forgive a few unruly stag parties, unless they want to give up the largest part of their profits! This is a 10.3% increase over 2014 and this year is expected to host more visitors so who knows what figure I’ll be reporting this time next year.

German and French tourists came in second and third place with spending of 9,837 million from the Germans (a decrease of 1.9%) and 7,074 million Euros from the French (an increase of 7.9%).

This year has started well with 3.5 million international tourists visiting in January, representing an 11.2% increase on the same period in 2015. Following terrorist attacks and changes to Foreign Office travel advice, tourists are ignoring the usual haunts like Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, instead opting for the “safer” Spain and Portugal. Hoteliers are recording massive increases in bookings for summer holidays and are urging people to book early to avoid disappointment.

Travel group ABTA have also noticed the increase in demand with Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive saying “The significant increase in summer holiday bookings to western Mediterranean destinations is also being mirrored in other Northern European markets. So it makes it more important than ever that customers book early to obtain the best value and ensure they get the holiday of their choice.”

Travel expert Bob Atkinson said Spain was currently the most searched destination on holiday comparison site

Following January’s bomb blast in a busy tourist spot which resulted in ten deaths, Turkey has reported a 50% decrease in reservations.

Mark Warner Travel have cancelled their Turkish holiday programme in its entirety for 2016 stating “We have enjoyed a long and happy history of offering holidays to Turkey and hope to return in the future.”

Meanwhile, Turkish holiday specialists Elixir Holidays have announced they are struggling to compete and are facing administration.

Thomas Cook have also announced that 400,000 seats destined for Turkey have now been allocated to Spain. Thompson Holidays have also increased Spanish options to cope with the massive demand.

Budget airline Monarch, have made changes to their schedule diverting their eight weekly flights to Sharm-el-Sheikh to Spain following the ban on UK airlines flying to the resort which saw 38 people murdered in last year’s terror attack.

Property agency Marbella For Sale have seen an increase in enquiries for holiday rentals in Marbella and the playground to the rich and famous, Puerto Banus, with many of their properties already fully booked for the whole summer.

The increase is surely good news for Spanish businesses but not so great for the tourists as the demand has meant an increase in prices. Room rates are rising due to demand as are flights and car rental costs.

So what to do? If you are planning on spending your summer holidays in Spain, then I suggest you start looking into it now. But shop around, there are plenty of websites offering cheap flights and accommodation so check them all. Don’t book the first one you see and make sure you read the small print!

More positive indicators for the Costa del Sol

Marbella is not the only large town to be influenced by the huge influx of tourists in 2014. With an estimated 10 billion euros being created in 2014 across Andalucia other councils are also making improvements which is great news for the construction industry.

The influx of tourism to Marbella this year has been so impressive that the town has been added to the small list of areas that is permitted to now start opening shops on Sundays, which is not only great news for the local residents but also for tourists.

In light of the pending local elections which are less than a year away now, one of the most eagerly anticipated projects of this year is due to start after the Summer in Estepona. The so-called Grand Boulevard is a major project which will transform Estepona and the surrounding area and will consist of a new shopping centre, more tourism related attractions and a new recreational centre. This privately funded project has a price tag of 30 million Euros, with the local council also financing a multi-millon euro botanical park boasting the biggest orchid collection in Europe.

Elsewhere on the Costa del Sol there is due to be other development of museums, tourist attractions, theatres, and infrastructure in Velez Malaga, Malaga City, Benalmádena, Mijas (old town), Rincón de la Victoria, Alharurin del Grande, Cartama and Fuengirola. Not only will all of the projects across all of these areas on the Costa del Sol bring in more tourists, but it will boost the economy and reduce unemployment greatly.

Hotel Bookings down 2.1% in August

Overnight stays in hotels in Spain registered a decline of 2.1% in August, despite the record increase in the number of foreign visitors. 40.8 million bookings were made in the eighth month of the year, which was 2.1% less than the same period of 2011, due to the fall in domestic demand.

The 3.5% rise in overnight stays by foreign tourists could not compensate for the 10% decrease in those made by residents, the National Statistics Institute reported on Monday.

Last month, the average stay was four nights per traveller, with a rise of 1.1%, despite the 0.8% annual increase in the Hotel Price Index, which took the revenue per occupied room to an average value of 84.6 euros (2.8 euros more than last year) and revenue per available room to 59.7 euros (0.4 euros more).

In August, 70.7% of the places available were booked, which was 2.6% less than a year earlier, while weekend occupancy was 72.6%, down 3.6%.

Foreign tourists accounted for 25.25 million of the overnight stays in August, compared with 15.56 million made by Spanish residents. The United Kingdom and Germany lead the ranking, with more than 12.5 million stays in August, making up 49.6% of the total, and Russia has now become the fifth source market, with a 29.7% increase in overnight stays, and 6.1% of the total.

El Pais reported that the Balearic Islands were confirmed as the main destination chosen by non-residents, with an increase of 4.5% compared to August 2011, followed by Catalonia (+6.4%) and the Canary Islands (+0.3%).

Travellers resident in Spain mostly chose to go to Andalusia, Valencia and Catalonia, although these regions recorded year-on-year declines in overnight stays of 6.9%, 4.7% and 11.9%, respectively.

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IVA changes in the pipeline

Speaking to the General Assembly of Employers’ associations
Rajoy speaking to the General Assembly of Employers’ associations

Mariano Rajoy’s government are preparing a package of anti-crisis reforms which will include an increase in sales tax (IVA).

Tax agency sources revealed that they are discussing an increase in IVA which was demanded by the European Commission and International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the first step is to move some products that are currently subject to a reduced rate into the general 18% band.

On Monday Rajoy said that more “difficult” economic measures would be coming “soon” and are needed in order to “grow and create employment”.

He didn’t say much more and didn’t reveal details but tax agency sources confirmed the government is revising a list of products that attract reduced rates of four and eight per cent. This would increase state income from IVA by applying the full 18% to more items.

At present 18% IVA is applied to the majority of consumer goods and services. The prime minister is reluctant to increase the general rate (he slammed the two per cent hike introduced by Zapatero in 2010) as he fears heavy criticism as well as a slump in consumer spending.

The EU suggested expanding the top band without formally increasing the rates would be a good way to increase income without a general increase. This is more a lesson in semantics. Call it “expand” rather than “increase” and the public backlash will be reduced. Interesting politics.

Some of the items that currently enjoy a reduced rate of 8% include some food products, glasses and contacts, catering and tourism, cultural events, newspapers, hairdressing, funeral services and certain health and farming equipment.

The further reduced rate of 4% is applied to products considered as basic essentials, such as bread, milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, cheese, books, medicines, and ‘protected’ housing.

Rajoy warned that there are more “difficult” measures to come during his speech to the General Assembly of the CEOE, the Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organisations.

Rajoy provided no further details as to what is to come. However, experts suggest that measures could affect public administration, public sector salaries, pensions and possibly unemployment benefits.

Some experts predict worse things to come in Spain if the government move tourism into the 18% band. Many parts of the country depend on tourists and worry that any increase could seriously damage the sector.