May 3rd, 2009
09:37 PM GMT
The pain is everywhere.
This report is being written from the cafeteria at Malaga Airport on Sunday night. I have spent the past few days on the Costa Del Sol having a bit of R&R. It has also given me a chance to see how the tourist parts of southern Spain are weathering the storm. The results are not good.
Admittedly the season is not in full swing, but already I can see where the recession has taken its toll. Many restaurants shut their doors last season and from what I can tell, won’t be opening them again this year. The apartment buildings along the coastline are festooned with “To Rent” signs from balconies.
British tourists are a mainstay of this part of Spain -– but this year, even with the offers and bargains, the Brits will find it expensive down here because of devaluation of the pound. Sterling has dropped more than 15 per cent against the Euro since last summer. Suddenly cheapo-Spain doesn’t look so cheap. (The pound/euro rate was even worse, around parity, but that was in January, in the depths of winter, and not too many Brits were heading to the Med then!) The effect of this is a simple meal out for two is expensive (Mum and I had one course each, soft drinks, no wine and the bill came to €30.)
So along the sea front the cafes are offering bargain breakfasts to British tourists who make up the single largest number of inbound visitors. Around €5 will buy you a full English Breakfast. “Toasties” (toasted sandwiches) can be had for around €3.
The problem resorts like Fuengirola, Mijas, Benalmadena and even Torremolinos face (and indeed for all the major resorts where the Euro is the currency ) is that they are being hit by this double whammy: Their customers are suffering from recession and their finding the money isn’t going as far.
There is a bit of hope -– all surveys show that people are very reluctant to give up their annual holiday no matter how bad the economy. Brits, Germans, Scandinavians will still travel to the European hot spots. The difference this time is they may book all-inclusive package holiday deals, to keep control of their costs, and they will cut corners wherever they can.
For Spain, and the other southern resorts , the economic clouds are still very firmly in the sky, whatever the temperature or season.
Now - tell me - Where are YOU going on vacation this year and have you changed your plans because of recession or economic woes ?