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General Director of Tourism of the Marbella City Council, Laura de Arce, explained that although “it is a bit too early to know how all of this is going to affect the tourism industry”, the lack of Russian tourism “has been felt” in Marbella and the Costa del Sol region, in the South of Spain, for the last couple of years as “Russian tourists haven’t been able to travel due to the pandemic”.
Figures showed 1.3 million Russian tourists visited Spain in 2019, meaning they were hugely important for tourism in the country before Covid hit. This number began to drop off during the pandemic.
However, she explained “Marbella still has a high number of Russian residents with properties in the city”.
“Many of them spent the pandemic here or part of it and currently maintain their residence here.”
When asked if the lack of Russian visitors is a cause for concern and if she is worried about it, Laura said: “Of course. Both markets [Russians and British] are key for Marbella.”
The mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, explained: “We are currently experiencing moments of uncertainty due to the invasion of Ukraine, but we want to be optimistic and hope that the war will not last long and the peace that we all so much desire will soon arrive and that it will provide stability to the markets.
“If so, according to the forecasts and the studies we have, the next summer season could be a historic summer, with even better data than before the pandemic.”
The mayor of the popular city in Costa del Sol added: “Marbella offers those who visit us fantastic relaxing options and activities in all the surroundings, with a unique tourist offer and exceptional safety and health measures at all times. Our city is ready to welcome visitors and offer them a unique experience.”
The General Director of Tourism, Laura de Arce, explained that “after two years with barely any Russian tourism”, Marbella has opted for other destinations and “focused our promotion in the Middle East and the USA”.
After a couple of years with very low occupation rates, only Britons will be able to save Marbella’s summer this year, according to Laura.
“To reach the occupation rates we had in 2019, it is vital that the British come back.
“This year British tourists will be able to travel without restrictions so we are confident this will help us to make up for any lack of tourism from other markets.
“The British tourists, along with the national tourists, are our main visitors and we are confident that this summer will be incredibly successful.
“So from here I encourage Britons to come as soon as possible to enjoy all the good things that Marbella offers, we are waiting for you with open arms and with all the health safety measures that we have been implementing in recent times.
“Marbella is more beautiful than ever!” she said.
But how are the Russians who used to visit Marbella?
Laura explained: “The profile of the Russian tourist adapts to the two types who are attracted to Marbella: the visitor who travels in the high season looking for beach, nautical activities, leisure, gastronomy and the rest of the things that make our destination a unique place for the variety of its offer.
“And that tourist who prefers to visit us at a time of year with less influx in order to enjoy the excellence of our services and the quality of life in Marbella in a more exclusive way.”
Talking about how the price increase will affect British holidaymakers and whether or not they will cancel their summer holidays to prioritise other expenses, she said: “The increase in prices that we are seeing at the moment is affecting everyone.
“However, it is true that the British tourist who visits Marbella often has higher spending power, so, although they will also suffer the increase in prices, they will not suffer in the same way.
“We want to be optimistic and think that by the summer the situation will have improved.
“As I was saying before, it has been two years already with many restrictions in the United Kingdom and we are sure that we will be able to count on them to a greater or lesser extent.
“We are confident that this summer will be quite good, as long as the levels of the pandemic continue as they currently are and the armed conflict has ended,” Laura concluded.
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