THE TOURIST POTENTIAL
THE TOURIST ACCOMMODATION OFFER IN MÁLAGA
The province of Malaga can boast without triumphalism that, at this moment in the middle of 1995, it has one of the best tourist infrastructures in the world, with a Costa del Sol situated between the three largest registered areas of the Spanish sun and beach tourism and an interior with unique enclaves like Ronda, Antequera, Frigiliana, etc., with a growing offer of interior or rural tourism set in the regions of the Ronda highland, the Axarquía, and the Guadalhorce valley. The combination of this series of resources probably forms one of the richest and most varied tourist panoramas that can exist.
But it is the Costa del Sol, the coast which runs uninterrupted from the provinces of Granada on the eastern part to Cádiz on the west, which gathers the great tourist emporium in the province of Malaga, in its fourteen municipalities, setting apart Nerja, Torrox, Vélez-Málaga (Torre del Mar), Malaga, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, and Estepona for their offers, and each one with their singularities which further emphasize their richness.
In the last three decades, Malaga has managed to gather one of the most important offers in accommodation in Spain, as much for the number of places as for the quality of them and the officially registered hotels and tourist apartment establishments. But this wide range of rooms is not the only outstanding feature, as there is also the one which is generated by the residential tourism and the one profusely used by the vacation tourism during the high season. This consists of the very important infrastructure which stands over the 200 high quality urbanizations and complexes which mark the Costa del Sol, converting the western coast into a succession of urban developments which from Malaga capital to Estepona form what is no doubt the longest and most cosmopolitan street in Europe.
A high street in Europe which on the eastern part presents very different characteristics to the western part, which has had a more accelerated and spectacular development for the errors it brought with the absence at that time of the minimum of urban controls. Whereas on the eastern coast, the residential tourism predominates, and the vacation tourism is scarce, finding accommodation in the summer months with the irregular offers. In the west, from Torremolinos to Manilva, the tourist component is quite different as it presents a wide range of products, as extent as the variety of the demand.
To the ample programme of public infrastructures which have previously been mentioned, there is the addition of the great effort made at the same time by the hotel businessman, basically, to renovate buildings which were left outdated by the inexorable passing of time and for modernizing not only the installations - furniture, decoration, technical infrastructure, etc.- but also the ways of promoting and commercialising of the extraordinary tourist hotel and apartment plants on the Costa del Sol.
The investment effort of the private initiative in the hotel trade in the last four or five years has not been accurately quantified, but the figure toyed with is around ten thousand million pesetas. At present, in 1995, the hotel viability plans on the Costa del Sol, in which the Ministry of Work, the businessmen, and the syndicate centres in the tourist sector have intervened, have not had the implicitness they were attributed and expected for the difficulty the businesses have in obtaining financing after the black four years 1990-1993 suffered in the sector for the world economic recession.
In the last decade, the eastern area of the coast has experienced a notable development of new hotel establishments, especially in Nerja, which is the most complete tourist municipality, whereas the ones of Torrox, Vélez-Málaga (Torre del Mar), and Rincón de la Victoria specialized more in the residential tourism. The eastern coast, therefore, has gone on to be formed with a base on an each time more internationalized and residential tourism, although without losing much of the familiar character still seen in the holidaymaker of that area, which at the same time conserves the Andalusian tradition of its town centres.
Each municipality of the western coast has its tourist type which differentiates it from the others. Torremolinos holds the largest and most varied offer in hotels and apartments on the Costa del Sol, so you could say that it is the paradigm of the mass tourism, where everything fits: from the most select clients to the last offer tourists of the less professional tour operator; Benalmádena presents similar characteristics even for historic and geographic reasons, although on a reduced scale but with a tendency to dissociate from the large mass tourism as it has five star hotels and a select marina among the best on the Mediterranean.
Fuengirola has a notable offer of accommodation for a tourism of medium to medium-high purchasing power, basically national, with residential nuclei for an elite tourism, an aspect which increases in the case of Mijas, which nevertheless has a very reduced hotel offer although it does have a very singular five star establishment. Marbella in turn has the best and most luxurious hotel offer and other accommodations of the Spanish tourist areas, including the two rival archipelagos on the Costa del Sol. Estepona not only has establishments that have made history, but have also been renovated and modernized, combining these to an ample offer of high quality residential tourism in the numerous urbanizations and medium type hotels. Malaga capital offers medium-high type hotels, a group to which a new one has joined after renovating and old and singular building in the old part of the city, as well as another series of hotels with less category for a semi-vacational tourism.
According to the accommodations registry - hotels, aparthotels, tourist apartments, boarding houses, and camping -, the province of Malaga offers a total of 599 establishments which have a total of more than 90,000 vacancies. At the end of 1994, this offer represented 33,08% of the vacancies in all Andalusia (273.565) and 5,7% of the national total (1.611.000 vacancies).
In brief, it has to be added that for the specialization of three or more star hotels, a general panorama can be described for the province of Malaga, formed by an offer of medium-high quality which corresponds with the present tendencies of the demand of the natural tourist markets of the Costa del Sol, in other words, national, Great Britain, central Europe countries and Nordic, and an emergent one with certain relief as is the Italian.