‘Spectacular exepectations’: 2024 will be a record year for tourism Costa del Sol

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record year tourism Costa del Sol

“The prospects are spectacular,” said Francisco Salado, president of the Diputación de Málaga, predicting that 2024 will break all records again. The Costa del Sol ended 2023 with a record number of 14 million visitors and 29 million overnight stays, the best tourism year in the history of this popular holiday destination.

Salado spoke to Efe and is convinced that the province of Málaga “has a lot of room to continue growing.” He even sees the possibility of receiving “several million” additional tourists. Especially because a historic goal has been achieved: breaking the seasonality, which means that the Costa del Sol now attracts tourists all year round. “Almost all months we have occupancy rates of around 60%. We have managed to spread the influx of tourists well,” he emphasised.

Spectacular prospects

The prospects for 2024 are promising. The figures for the first months, which in the past always represented the quietest period, form the basis for this optimism. In the first quarter, the Costa del Sol received almost 1.5 million tourists, an increase of 13% compared to the same period in 2023. Overnight stays increased by 19% to 5.4 million, mainly by foreign visitors. Málaga airport handled more than 4.5 million passengers until March, an increase of 21.6%. “If this trend continues, 2024 will be a historic year. All record predictions from 2019 will be exceeded,” said Salado.

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Focus on quality tourism

Through Turismo Costa del Sol, Málaga focuses on attracting “quality tourists,” such as participants in trade fairs and conferences, golf and sports enthusiasts, and the growing cruise market. Despite the fact that Málaga is a medium-sized city with just over 500,000 inhabitants, the arrival of cruise ships has not caused any major inconvenience. Many tourists visit other parts of the province or Andalucia, such as Córdoba, Seville or Granada, which is good for the regional economy.

No tourism phobia

Unlike cities such as Barcelona or Palma de Mallorca, Málaga does not experience “tourism phobia” according to Salado. “We have lived from tourism for so long and need it so badly that fighting tourism would be like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.” ,” Salado said. To prevent negative attitudes towards tourists, the Diputación recently launched a campaign under the motto ‘Tourism is good for everyone. Let’s take good care of it!’ This campaign is specifically aimed at making students aware of the importance of tourism for the region.

Tourist tax

Salado is also mayor of the coastal town of Rincón de la Victoria and emphasises in the interview that tourism has contributed to the restoration and recovery of the historic centre of Málaga, which was neglected and dirty more than twenty years ago. He does advocate a balance between tourist and regular homes and wants to limit the granting of new permits in saturated areas. He says he is opposed to the introduction of a tourist tax in Andalucia. “I’m not in favour of tax increases because we already pay enough taxes,” Salado said. He believes additional taxes make a tourist destination less competitive. Many municipalities are considering this option because of their “economic constraints,” but if they had sufficient resources, this debate would not be happening.

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