Slowly we are going back to ‘normal’. The summer holidays are coming up and bookings for campsites and holiday homes in Spain are running wild. Both prices and the number of bookings seem to be going back to the level of 2019.
However, bookings by foreign tourists are still lagging behind, but this is expected to change in July. Since the end of the state of emergency on 9 May, the number of camping reservations has increased by 60%. This is according to the Spanish Federation of Campsites FEEC. Bookings for holiday homes are also growing steadily, especially for detached houses with swimming pools. Some destinations foresee pre-pandemic levels, even though millions of foreigners will be missing.
The occupation of campsites is said to be mainly Spanish, as foreign tourists are not booking much at the moment. However, the number of foreign tourists is expected to increase significantly in July. The FEEC states that many of the reservations made are campers and first-timers who discovered the sector last year. Many have decided to repeat this in 2021.
Currently, all weekends in June are almost 90% occupied, in July 50% and in August 70%. The FEEC estimates the average national occupancy rate could rise above 75% if the vaccination process continues at this pace.
FEEC President Ana Beriain expects to achieve the same occupancy rate this summer as in summer 2019 if the current booking trend continues. That amounts to occupancy rates of more than 75%, which would be ‘extraordinary considering the lower numbers of foreign guests’.
Detached holiday homes are also hugely popular this year. On the Balearic Islands, for example, 80% of detached houses on the market are already booked for the summer. A consequence of the pandemic is that the supply of tourist homes is less. Many holiday homes were used for permanent residence, so that the increase in demand clashes with the existing supply.
This is especially noticeable in urban destinations. According to data from the Spanish Federation of Associations of Tourist Homes and Apartments (Fevitur);
The above percentage of tourist homes have gone into regular rental. Furthermore, not all these properties will return to the holiday market, as often the landlord is bound by a contract. ‘If we base ourselves on bookings so far, we achieve about 45% of the annual occupancy,’ says Tolo Gomila, president of Fevitur. Quiet areas, such as Castilla y León, Galicia and Asturias, are popular. The growth is mainly in the rental of detached houses, the increase in rental of apartments is less’.
The demand for detached houses comes not only from Spaniards themselves, but also from the rest of Europe. This is with the exception of the United Kingdom, which still has travel restrictions. A number of landlords remain positive. But for the majority, especially with domestic tourists, it seems difficult to reach 2019 levels.
The president of Fevitur assures that rates have dropped by an average of 15% compared to 2019. But for the main destinations, the forecast as of now is a return to pre-pandemic prices. A reasonable development, according to industry experts. Carlos Perez, president of the Association of Tourist Accommodation in Andalucia (AVVA), says: ‘Summer accounts for 50% of our turnover, and is very important. This year, Andalucia is expected to have an occupancy rate of more than 75% and a normalisation of tariffs and prices. The same applies to rural tourism, which will see even better figures and a recovery in prices’.
Andalucía supplies 45% of the national demand for tourist accommodation. It is therefore a thermometer of the mood of Spaniards. Due to all the uncertainty, as in 2020, domestic tourism is an interesting option. Last year Andalucia had an occupancy rate of 57%. For this summer, figures in the region of 80-90% are already expected.
‘There are already many reservations for villas with pools and houses with terraces, especially in Marbella, Nerja and the Costa del Sol in general,’ says Perez. In Andalucia, the number of tourist homes has fallen by 26% due to the pandemic.
However, the situation is more difficult for the Spanish islands because 80% of the tourists there are international. Especially for the Balearic Islands, where the high season should already start in June. The number of conferences and business events is also declining. In addition, there is little accommodation available for short-term rentals, due to many seasonal and long-term rentals In part, this is due to digital nomads. In addition, the Balearic Islands are heavily dependent on British tourism. Maria Gibert from the Association of Balearic Tourist Rentals (Habtur) says that the Balearic Islands have suffered from very severe restrictions by the Balearic government. But now the courts have annulled these measures, we will see what happens. We do not expect a recovery to pre-pandemic levels, but hope to see positive signs in a few weeks’ time’.
According to a survey by the platform HomeToGo, 46% of Spaniards will choose tourist accommodation in Spain this summer for the safety issues to the coronavirus. Of these, 31% prefer the hotel, 13% opt for camping and only 2% for hostels.
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