The last fortnight of the month seems to be the definitive one for tourism in the province of Alicante to “make a splash” at the most prosperous levels since the health crisis arrived. Indeed, some of the indicators highlighted by sources in the sector in terms of accommodation, flight arrivals, hotel consumption and figures for visits to sites are on a par with the pre-pandemic period. I
n other words, hotel occupancy on the Costa Blanca reached 90% in August; rural tourism also had good figures and accommodation in Alicante campsites was full. In addition, the number of flights arriving at Alicante-Elche airport is also increasing (with more national tourism), and the hotel and catering establishments are operating at full capacity.
The negative point is that, due to the situation caused by the coronavirus, in many cases, businesses do not have enough room for manoeuvre to adapt to changes made by the health regulations – curfew, extension of staff, opening hours, among others. However, the month as a whole is proving to be a respite for the province’s tourism sector.
In terms of accommodation places in tourist resorts, the trend has been increasing since the first fortnight. For example, in Benidorm, the first week of August ended with an occupancy rate of 77%. In the rest of the Costa Blanca, it rose to 86%, with more than 80% of national tourism; however, according to sources in the sector, an increase in demand from the French has been noted. Gradually, these figures are increasing and, in general terms, at a provincial level, hotel occupancy figures have reached 90% on the Costa Blanca this week, according to the Alicante Provincial Hotel Association (APHA). The employers Hosbec also published this week that they reached these figures in their establishments in Benidorm.
Likewise, bookings until the end of the month and the beginning of September indicate that the trend will continue in the coming weeks.
Accommodation figures are also positive in the inland areas of the province, in hotels, flats and rural houses, where the arrival of visitors and bookings are constant. Likewise, Alicante’s campsites are experiencing almost a full house at the moment and are looking ahead to the end of the month. In this case, the pandemic is leading more people to look for an environment where they can spend the summer and where less crowds and fresh air can be guaranteed; a ‘bubble’ to avoid contagion of covid-19. For this reason, among the most popular options are the natural and rural areas in the province.
Another tourism indicator to take into account is the arrival of flights at Alicante-Elche airport. According to Aena, the movement of passengers at El Altet is being quite busy, with a similar trend to the pre-pandemic season. In this way, the most remarkable thing is that this movement is not so much due to foreign tourists – who also arrive mainly from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden – but to an increase in domestic tourism. And the fact is that, while in previous years there were people in the country who chose August to fly to destinations in other countries, in 2021, many of them are staying in Spain. In particular, many of them are returning to the Costa Blanca.
One of the places that is most noticing this return of tourists from Spain is Orihuela Costa. The Alicante South Association of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation points out that this destination, which has traditionally welcomed a greater proportion of foreign tourists, is now welcoming visitors from the country almost in its entirety.
Likewise, in Elche, a greater arrival of national tourists has also been noted. In fact, visitors have increased by 30% compared to 2019, according to data from the month of August based on the services provided by the Tourist Office of the Municipal Park of Elche. This increase has come despite the fact that the patron saint festivals of the Misteri d’Elx and the Nit de l’Albà have not been held.
Likewise, although the curfew in some municipalities has provoked protests from hotel and catering associations due to the limited opening hours of establishments, especially nightlife establishments, the hotel and catering sector is also experiencing a time of full tables, especially in the more touristy enclaves.
According to its director, José Francisco Mancebo, with these figures on the table, the Costa Blanca Provincial Tourist Board is currently considering a campaign to extend the summer season until 1 October. However, they assume that it will be complicated to continue with the same intensity of tourist arrivals after the “back to school” season begins and travel dates are more conditioned by the end of the holidays in many cases.