Quote: ‘Things getting back to normal. UK scrapping the traffic light system allowed people to book with confidence. Christmas will be a bumper period’ – Michael O’Leary

By Andrew Atkinson

Spanish residents flocked to the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol this summer – offsetting missing hordes of travellers including expats that were hit by coronovirus regulations.

And, despite the summer season officially over, thousands of holidaymakers are set to arrive in Spain in October – with beaches in Torrevieja and Guardamar once again busy.

National tourism saw Malaga the leading province in Spain, in terms of bookings for Spanish residents in hotels during June, July and August.

They accounted for 3,192,740 overnight stays of the almost 5.2 million stays with the hotels on the coast having closed the high-season period.

Data from Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) shows the area was the preferred destination for national tourism this summer – ranking above Alicante – Cádiz and the Balearic Islands.

2021 National tourism has been a record, according to INE statistics, compiled since 1999.

Accommodation remained below the corresponding three months, pre-pandemic, in August 2019.

A total of 5,159,052 overnight stays were recorded, including international travellers, compared to the 7.4 million, before Covid-19 plunged the sector into its worst crisis.

August saw the recovery of tourism, closing with a hotel occupancy rate of 74.6 per cent, compared to the 81.6 per cent recorded before the health crisis in the Costa del Sol Tourism.

In August establishments received a total of 403,705 national travellers and 218,137 foreigners, generating 2,366,398 million stays, of which 1.3 million nights reserved were by residents of Spain.

Data differs notably compared to August 2019, in which the number of stays by foreign travellers was 1.6 million exceeding one million of those made by Spaniards.

An increase in the length of the average hotel stay lead to an increase in the number of staff employed in hotels, with more than 5,995 jobs.

Michael O'Leary: British travelling to Spain in October - and particularly at Christmas.
Michael O’Leary: British travelling to Spain in October – and particularly at Christmas.

The president of Costa del Sol Tourism, Francisco Salado, said: “We have incomparable tourist resources, an unbeatable offer and magnificent professionals.

“We are going to continue working hard for this sector that generates so much wealth and employment for the province.

“It is true that all these indicators continue to represent a decrease compared to the 2019 figures, but the data tells us that we are getting closer to recovery.”

With cancellations the norm during the height Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing protocol costly vaccine regulations, isolation, etc., during the last 19 months many people binned holidays to Spain this year.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the traffic light system is to be replaced from October 4 by a single, reduced, “red list” of destinations, from where travellers arriving in England will have to quarantine in a Government-supervised hotel.

Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps

People who are fully vaccinated will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations, and from the end of October they will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

“We have all been challenged,” said Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary.

“Now that the UK have removed the four ‘traffic light’ system regulations people are returning to travel,” said O’Leary.

“British people will be travelling to Spain in October – and particularly at Christmas.

“As long as there are no adverse effects. We can’t drop our guard and people still have to wear face masks at airports and on flights.

“But things are getting back to normal. The UK scrapping the traffic light system has allowed people to book with confidence.

“The pent-up demand is returning very quickly. I think Christmas will be a bumper period,” added O’Leary.

Beaches remain busy as holidaymakers return to Torrevieja. Photo: Andrew Atkinson.