There has been a high degree of confidence over the last few months that 2014 will end up being a record-breaking year for the Spanish tourist industry, but after the first fortnight of July it seems that hotel-owners on the Costa Blanca are not so sure.
On Wednesday morning the feeling at the meeting of CEHAT (Spain’s Hotel and Tourist Accommodation Association) was that everything was rosy and that a spectacular summer season was guaranteed, but in the afternoon the hotel association of the Costa Blanca poured a large bucket of cold water on that idea. Alicante’s hotel owners report that the occupancy rate this July is likely to be five points lower than in the same month last year, and that while there have been very few vacancies at weekends from Monday to Thursday there are far fewer guests than had been hoped for.
A similar phenomenon has been reported by Costa Blanca bars and restaurants, with high weekend takings being replaced by empty tables during the week, and Antonio Mayor, the president of Hosbec, comments that there are still rooms available even in August. In his view this summer will be “acceptable”, but not much more.
One of the reasons for this lack of optimism may be that tourist preferences have changed. No longer is it sufficient to supply a beach and a swimming-pool: now visitors are looking for more, and hotels and tourist boards have not yet fully adapted to new tastes.
Other reasons cited by professionals in the sector include school re-take exams being held in July rather than September and the football World Cup in Brazil, but Cehat’s statistics confirm that the broader picture shows visitor preferences changing. There are now more short stays of between three and seven nights, and far fewer of the traditional two-week bookings.
Despite all these misgivings, though, the hotel sector in the Costa Blanca is still set for a positive year, due to the high occupancy rates in spring and autumn and the continuing increase in the number of non-Spanish guests. Last year Spain’s hotels welcomed 60.6 million foreigners, and this year the expectation is that a new record of 62 million will be set.
Much of this is down to a growth in the popularity of hotels among British visitors, but the French and the Germans are also making more reservations this year than last. The number of Russians staying in hotels, on the other hand, has fallen by 6% across the country so far this year, although the only regional increase has been recorded in the Costa Blanca.
Image: The Costa Blanca last weekend as temperatures soared. Copyright Efe
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