MALAGA – Málaga, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain, is undergoing a remarkable shift: the city and its surroundings are attracting not only holidaymakers but also new permanent residents. Furthermore, eight out of ten come from abroad.
The attractiveness of the climate, quality of life, coastline and heritage is so high that a large part of tourists who have been somewhere in the province of Malaga in recent years choose not to go there anymore to spend their holidays. Instead, they prefer to settle there. According to José Damián Ruiz Sinoga, professor of Physical Geography at the University of Málaga, tourism in the region has evolved from “sun and beach to residential”.
8 in 10 newcomers are not from Spain
Recent figures from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) show that Málaga has had a population increase of 56,242 people, of which 44,656 come from other countries. This means that as many as 80% of the new residents are not from Spain.
Economic advantages and disadvantages
This trend brings a strong economic boost, especially for the Costa del Sol. Many of the new residents have a higher salary than the local population, which is positive for the local economy. However, this economic boom has a dark side. The influx of affluent newcomers leads to an increase in rental and real estate prices. This has negative consequences for the original, often less wealthy residents. As a result, in many cases, they are forced to leave their familiar place of residence.
The appeal of Málaga
The climate, quality of life and rich cultural heritage are some of the elements that attract tourists and new residents alike. Places such as Benahavís, Mijas and Frigiliana are particularly mentioned for their “extraordinary environmental conditions”. The shift to residential tourism therefore seems a logical development, given the many benefits that the region offers.
Balancing between growth and sustainability
The question now is how Málaga and the surrounding regions can manage this growth in a sustainable way. The benefits are clear: more tax revenues and greater economic activity. But the risks, including gentrification and alienation of the local community, are just as real and require careful policy.