Tourism in Spain experimented a growth of 4.4% in 2017, which made possible to increase its contribution to the Spanish economy up to 11.5% of the national GDP.
Although the tourist sector continues to be the main driver of economic growth and job creation, in the fourth quarter of 2017 there was a slowdown caused by the political climate in Catalonia and the recovery of the competing markets of Spain, among other things.
Despite all of that, Spain became, in 2017, the second world’s touristic power, above the USA and behind France. By November, the number of arrivals to Spain had already exceeded that of 2016. Thus, Spain has broken its own record for the fifth consecutive year. Almost 82 million international tourists visited our country in 2017, -8.9% more than in 2016-, a figure that had never been reached before.
When it comes to expenditure, the balance is also positive, reaching a total figure of 86,823 million euros, which, in comparison to the preceding year, means a growth of 12.2%. In this sense, the average spend per tourist grew by 3.1% in 2017, which means that each tourist spent an average of 1,061 euros during their stay in Spain.
During the first quarter of 2018, the tourist activity has mildly decreased in comparison to the same months of preceding years, although the period closed with a positive GDP increase of 3.4%. Behind this slowdown is the fact that international tourism decreased mildly.
Andalusia beat, in 2017, a tourist record reaching 29,5 million visitors, a historical figure that translates to a 4.7% increase with respect to the preceding year. For 2018, it is expected, in this sense, to reach 30 million visitors, a goal initially marked for 2020. The income earned in 2017 was also historical: 20,400 million euros, 4.5% more than the preceding year.
With regard to the province of Malaga, 2017 was its best year ever in terms of Tourism. It was consolidated as the fastest growing urban destination with a stay of over 1,3 million people; more than 2.4 million overnight stays and an occupancy rate of 79%. International Tourism grew in Malaga mostly because of the insecurity perceived by the tourists in other Mediterranean destinations. These countries (Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia) are recovering ground. Even so, the arrival of international tourists grew by 8.2% in 2017. Tourists originating from the UK and Germany remain the most important in terms of volume, although an increase in the arrival of air travellers from the following countries was particularly noteworthy: Sweden (41%), Holland (29.7%), Italy (27.8%), Denmark (16%).
With regards to the national market, the province of Malaga in terms of Tourism grew by 5.26%, partly thanks to the tourists that arrived to the capital from the rest of the region. Around 61% of the tourists that came to Malaga in 2017 was of foreign original, a 17% more than in the preceding year. The international market, thus, is growing more and more, the UK visitors being the most important in terms of volume for the city of Malaga (125,554 tourists, a 18.5% more than the preceding year).
The capital grew in 2017 over the Spanish (3.66%), Andalusian (2.61%) and the province’s (1.5%) averages. It was the municipality of Malaga that grew the most and the one with the most travellers, ahead of Torremolinos (954,001), Marbella (748,367) and Benalmadena (583,324).
The average occupancy in the city in 2017 reached almost 79%, and only Barcelona, with a 79.26% was ahead of Malaga. Malaga has, thus, been confirmed as a sustainable and quality destination and it is the city’s essential strategy to seek new market niches that allow reinforcing the growth in the main issuing markets.
Malaga is living a cultural and urban renovation which makes it an ‘it’ destination for tourism and venture capitalists. It has nearly forty museums. It has even managed to attract cultural centres of such importance as the Pompidou, which will be linked to the city until 2025.
Other important museums in the city are the Russian Collection, the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the Picasso Museum, the Museum of Malaga –which hosts one of the best 19th century paintings’ collection, nationally, as well as supreme archaeological findings-, the Automobile Museum, the Contemporary Art Centre and the Picasso Foundation.
In economic terms, Conventions tourism is one of the most relevant for the province of Malaga, since it breaks with the seasonality. Malaga is a very attractive city in terms of Business tourism, since it offers a wide array of possibilities for companies.
The Costa del Sol has shown a potential to host major international events. The MICE segment (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) had, in 2017, an extraordinary performance. According to the data, the year ended with 233 conventions, which reflects an increase of 74.8% compared to 2016, and almost 100,000 participants, which reflects a 48.1% increase. These events are possible, in most cases, thanks to the public-private cooperation; responsible for having helped put he Costa del Sol in the privileged place it is at right now.
Also, the Costa del Sol hosts a quarter of the golf courses in Spain, and it has become one of the most valued destinations in this regard.
Gastronomic tourism is also a strong one in our province. ‘Sabor a Malaga’, a public brand created by the provincial government for the promotion of the image and the quality of the Malaguenian agri-food products, has been, so far, very successful at promoting such type of Tourism.
Sport events and concerts generate an impact of 83 million euros in Malaga. A 12% of this total figure, -10 million euros-, was generated by tourists who visited the city. The musical event ‘Starlite’, held in Marbella since 2012, is also a remarkable one.
According to statistics, hotel overnight stays increased by 2.7%. The biggest drive was foreign tourism, which grew a 3.7%.
On a regional scale, Andalusia has recorded the best tourist data in history in 2017. It is ranked as the second Spanish region in terms of visitors in general and the third in terms of international tourists. In 2017 there was an increase of 900,000 overnight stays, compared to the preceding year, and reaching a total of 52.4 million stays. Likewise, there is also a rise of 2.7% in terms of traveller numbers, up to 18.3 million in 2017.
With regards to Malaga and the number of registered travellers and overnight stays, the figure is pretty similar to the preceding year’s, reaching the 5.3 million passengers staying in hotel establishments and almost 20 million overnight stays during the year 2017.
Travel By Type Of Accommodation
Hotel traffic in the province of Malaga has reached, in 2017, a total of 19.9% overnight stays, 128 thousand fewer nights than in the preceding year, which means a decrease in relative terms of -0,6%. This situation derives from the decrease shown by the national market (-11,1%), which has not been offset by the increase in foreign tourist demand in the province (+3,4%).
Jobwise, the results are more positive than those of the preceding year. In fact, hotels and pensions in Malaga have employed an average of 13,000 people, an increase in relative terms of 6.3%, ranking as the Andalusian province with the highest growth this year.
The occupancy rate (64%) reached in the province of Malaga was the highest in the whole region, showing a growth of 0.5 points with respect to 2016 and surpassing the Andalusian average (55.8%).
The notable increase in tourist consumption, the recovery of the business segment, the arrival of long-distance tourists with a higher level of expenditure and the opening and repositioning of new products with a higher level of service have intensified the generation of tourist employment in the cities (6%), especially in the branches of tourism related to their direct spending at destination, such as the enjoyment of leisure, restaurants and commerce.
The hotel occupancy in Malaga capital has grown during 2017, despite the strong increase of serviced apartments in the city in recent years. Malaga continues to lead the growth of Spanish urban destinations, ahead of Zaragoza, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao and Seville.
With regard to the Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, it closed 2017 with the highest passenger traffic in its history, exceeding 18 million, two million more than in 2016, thanks to the growth rate maintained by both the foreign market as the national.
The airport of Malaga is the third of the peninsula in volume of travellers and the main gateway of international tourism to Andalusia.
Passengers’ evolution at Malaga Airport
|YEAR||NUMBER OF PASSENGERS|
Source: AENA (2017)
In relation to rail transport, the train remains in a position of clear advantage over the airplane in the market share of the trips that are made between Madrid and Malaga. The AVE Madrid-Malaga last year celebrated its tenth anniversary of the launch of this high-speed line with more than 20 million passengers.
Since December 2007, the AVE has been gaining ground to air travel constantly, reaching its record last August when the train obtained 88.1% of the market share, compared to 11.9% of the plane. A total of 2,438,426 passengers used the Madrid-Malaga AVE trains during 2017, a figure that represents an increase of 2.5% compared to 2016.
It is also worth mentioning is the cruise industry, a segment of the tourism sector that is growing the most. Malaga led the arrival of cruise passengers in 2017 exceeding for the first time the half million and with an impact of almost 40 million euros. Having received 299 ships during 2017, the port of Malaga is the fastest growing port in Spain.
Malaga, Comprehensive Quality
The Costa del Sol tends to position as one of the best tourist destinations, thanks to the extraordinary quality of its services.
Malaga is the only Spanish destination that has, in two occasions -2013 and 2017-, been awarded by the Secretary of Tourism with the best SICTED destination award (Comprehensive System of Tourist Quality in Destination).
The Malaga Tourism Office celebrated in February 2018 the tenth anniversary of its incorporation to SICTED with a record in the number of affiliate companies. Malaga is currently the third Spanish tourist destination with the greatest number of affiliations to SICTED, only behind Gijon and Pontevedra.
Thus, throughout these years, Malaga’s tourism sector is a real example of quality. Among other things, it is worth mentioning the ISO-9001 seal obtained in every tourist office, or the offices’ certification and the Q of Quality at the Convention Bureau. The office located at the Plaza de la Marina was the first one to reach that distinction.
Given these recognitions, the City Council believes that new five-star hotels are needed in order to attract luxury tourist who would much rather spend their nights in Marbella or Puerto Banus. One of the discussed projects, in this sense, is the construction of a skyscraper hotel in the Port of Malaga.
The objectives for 2018 are to consolidate the record figures of 2017, as well as to overcome the resurgence of competing markets, or reactivate the national tourism. 2018 will probably mean a new record in terms of tourism, since there’s still much room for growth.