Hotels Suffer from the First Decrease in Overnight Stays since 2012

24 January 2019 – Expansión

The record number of tourists registered in 2018 has not removed the bitter taste from the mouths of Spanish hoteliers, who are starting to suffer from symptoms that the sector is worn out. In 2018, Spanish hotels recorded the first decrease in the number of overnight stays in six years. A moderate decrease, of –0.1%, according to data from INE, but one that has not been seen since 2012, when Spain was in the midst of the financial crisis.

Spain is receiving more tourists than ever, and they are increasing their spending year on year, but they are also gradually reducing their average stay, and some of the demand is opting for alternative destinations, such as Turkey, which are competing on price, which is eroding the margins of many hotels at home (…).

According to data from Exceltur, Spain lost 21 million overnight stays in 2018, due to a decrease in the average stay. The boom in low-cost airlines, amongst other factors in the sector, has favoured the democratisation of tourism. Increasingly more people are travelling, but they are doing so for shorter periods. Whilst in 2008, the average stay was 9.4 days, it is now 7.4 days.

That change can be observed most easily amongst overseas tourists, who account for 65.8% of overnight stays and who decreased the number of nights spent in Spain by -0.4%, whereas domestic tourists increased their overnight stays by +0.4%.

The change in trend is being observed primarily in the traditional beach and sun markets, and in the most important months for the sector, in the height of the summer. In the Canary Islands, the primary destination for international tourists, accounting for almost one third of all overnight stays, visits by foreigners decreased by 3.6%(…).

According to explanations provided recently by the Head of Research at Exceltur, Óscar Perelli, these decreases reflect “the recovery of competitor countries”. Hotels, especially those on the beach, are being affected by competition in terms of prices from countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. Those markets have recovered around 12 million tourists in recent years and they are still 20% below the levels they reached before their own crises (…).

Travellers from the United Kingdom and Germany account for 46% of all of the overnight stays made by non-resident visitors, and yet, there was a -0.9% decrease last year in the case of British tourists.

As a result, many hotels are trying to compete through promotional packages and cost reduction policies, and so prices barely increased in 2018. The Index of Hotel Prices from INE reflects a 1.5% increase in hotel tariffs, barely three decimal points above inflation for the year, making it the lowest rise in prices since 2013.

In terms of tourists who increased their hotel stays by the most, those who have to travel long distances, including visitors from the US (6.1%) are also the travellers who spend the most (€113 per tourist per day, compared with €98/tourist/day for those visiting from traditional markets), and so representatives in the sector recommend focusing promotional strategies to attract tourists from those countries.

Original story: Expansión (by Inma Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Balearic Government Doubles its Tourist Eco-Tax from 1 May 2018

3 May 2018 – Expansión

Tourists enjoying their holidays on the Balearic Islands awoke on Tuesday to news that isn’t going to completely ruin their fun, but which is certainly going to affect their wallets. The tax that tourists have to pay for each overnight stay on the islands, also known as the eco-tax, had doubled overnight. That was the result of the entry into force of the new tariffs for the Balearic Island Government’s Sustainable Tourism Tax. The increase has been criticised by hoteliers on the islands, which regard it “as frankly wrong, given that any kind of extraordinary tax reduces our competitiveness”, explains María José Aguiló, Executive Vice-President of the Hotel Business Federation of Mallorca (FEHM) in statements to this newspaper.

The government team led by Francina Armengol (PSOE) announced that this new tariff would enter into force from 1 May onwards. Specifically, during the high season, which runs from 1 May until 31 October, any tourist staying in a hotel ranked 4-stars or above will have to pay an eco-tax of €4 per night, which is twice as much as they had to pay during the same period last year (€2) and €3 more than the amount charged during the low season – from 1 November until 30 April.

One of the risks related to the rise is that, with the recovery of other markets in the Mediterranean Arc, such as Egypt and Turkey, the increase in the final cost of each stay will cause tourists to flee to other more competitive destinations.

Although the news is not new – the rise was announced in September last year – it has still surprised many tourists and critics alike, including hoteliers. By mid-morning yesterday, one tourist staying in a hotel in Palma had refused to pay the tax, claiming that he had not been informed about the doubling of the tariff and expressing his doubts over the use that would be made of the funds raised. Although the problem did not go any further – the hotel decided to bear the cost of the tax on this occasion – the situation clearly raises an important issue, relating to the information that is being offered.

Sources close to the Vice-President of the Balearic Government explain that communication efforts have been carried out in the media, as well as through tour operators and trade associations. Nevertheless, hoteliers are asking for a greater push. “Some customers book their trips directly and are unaware of the news”, explains Aguiló, who said that “more specific material” needs to be provided to inform people.

On the other hand, “customers are asking us what this money is being used for”, added Aguiló, which may lead to a reluctance to pay it. For now, they propose that the Government intensifies its communication effort in source markets.

Armengol’s Government expects to raise around €120 million this year through this tax, which will also be applied to tourists who arrive on cruise ships, regardless of how long they stay for – previously, it was only applied to visitors who stayed for more than 12 hours -. The aim, explain Government sources is “to offset tourist pressure and to conserve the eco-system and heritage, so that we can all still enjoy the islands in 10 years time” (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Inma Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spanish Hoteliers See No ST Threat From Brexit

3 August 2016 – Hotel News Now

Spanish hoteliers said they have yet to see any immediate negative impact on tourism from the U.K. since that country voted to leave the European Union.

“Spain has long been, and should remain for the foreseeable future, the favored vacation destination for British visitors despite Brexit, and all indications are that bookings well into next year are still healthy,” said Juan Molas, President of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodations (CEHAT), during a 28 July news conference.

The U.K. is Spain’s largest source market for foreign visitors. Last year, 68 million foreign visitors traveled to Spain, which was an increase of 5% over the previous year. Approximately 16 million Britons accounted for 21% of those visitors.

Following the victory for the “leave” vote in the 23 June Brexit referendum and the resulting drop in the value of the pound against the euro, there was concern in the Spanish hotel sector that the subsequent higher prices would keep Britons away.

But hoteliers noted that British travelers traditionally reserve their holidays months in advance, so there appears to be no immediate negative impact on peak business this summer.

Molas said that momentum should extend into the 2016-2017 winter season and next summer. He added that Spain’s tour operators and travel agencies that sell package vacations—which are used by 70% of British tourists when booking their Spanish holidays—have noticed steady booking trends well into 2017.

“Spain continues to be the most popular vacation spot for the British, who don’t tend to travel for leisure to some of our competitors like Egypt or Turkey, which are more popular among the Germans and French,” he said. “Spanish hotels and destinations offer the British what they want on a holiday: safety and good value for money. We’ve seen the pound-euro exchange rate fluctuate often in the past, and there was no lasting major effect on us.”

But Molas cautioned the weaker pound could curtail daily spending by British visitors in Spain and London will now be a cheaper alternative for event booking than Spanish cities.

“London is our biggest competitor in Europe for the convention trade, and Paris, where hotel prices have fallen because of the recent unfortunate events in France, is also a rival,” he said. “But our biggest competitor in all of this would be for the British to decide not to travel and just stay home.”

Long-term effects of Brexit are still unknown, said CEHAT Secretary General Ramón Estalella.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, but there are three important unknowns to consider,” he said. “One is when Britain will finally leave the EU and what further effects that might have. Two, no one knows where the pound will be in value (in) six months or there could be a crisis in Europe dragging down the value of the euro and so making the pound stronger. And three, what might happen in our competitor countries that could affect the British source market.”

The CEHAT executives also presented the findings of a survey of its members—which include 54 local and regional hotel associations and 1.5 million beds—on the sector’s performance through the end of the summer. A majority of the respondents are looking forward to a positive high season thanks largely to a rise in room rates and longer average stays by guests, which will result in higher profits.

Molas said hoteliers are confident that the continuing demand from both Spanish and foreign guests will increase.

“What’s important now is to use the occupancy rates to maximize earnings and promote Spain through advertising and marketing so we can cement its position as one of the leading tourism destinations in the world,” Molas said.

Original story: Hotel News Now (by Benjamin Jones)

Edited by: Carmel Drake

Málaga Accounts For 53% Of Andalucía’s Holiday Homes

11 December 2015 – La Opinión de Málaga

The province of Málaga may account for more than half of the supply of holiday homes for rent in the autonomous region of Andalucía – specifically, 53% – at least, that is according to the calculations performed by the international firm Homeaway. The company is one of the market leaders in a segment that is causing a lot of controversy at the moment, with hoteliers, through groups such as Exceltur, accusing its participants of unfair competition given that they operate in a legal vacuum and are not subject to tax charges. The spokesman for Homeaway in Spain, Joseba Cortázar, who was speaking at a conference about the collaborative economy held yesterday in the Andalucía Lab de Marbella, said that the region, which has 14,600 properties advertised on its website (7,800 in Málaga) accounts for 16% of its total holiday rental supply in Spain (around 88,000 properties). Homeaway, together with Airbnb and Niumba, is one of the most representative companies in this sector, accounting for almost a quarter of all activity in Spain.

Homeaway, which cites that the Costa del Sol is one of its main markets, says that, at the global level, rented holiday homes have generated an economic impact of €793 million in Andalucía over the last two years, of which €761 million was spent on leisure and food during visitors’ stays, “impacting directly on businesses in the region”. The data is presented in a report compiled for the company by the Marketing Department of the University of Salamanca. In its conclusions, it says that rented holiday homes “are not competition, but are actually complementary to hotels, given that 81% (600,629) of the 740,000 visitors (resident in Spain and aged between 18 and 65) who leased tourist accommodation in Andalucía during the last two years, also stayed in hotels and only 19% (140,088) exclusively leased holiday home accommodation.

Homeaway’s report also says that the people who rented both holiday homes and hotels for leisure and holidays are the ones who take the most trips per year (6.57 times), a higher number than those that have stayed in a holiday home in Andalucía at least once in the last two years, independently of whether they have complemented their stay with nights in a hotel (5.84 times). According to this data, families (47%), couples (28%) and groups of friends (23%) are the main users of holiday homes in the autonomous region, whilst couples (49%) and families (34%) are most prevalent in hotels, with groups of friends taking a smaller share of the market (10%). For Homeaway, the report demonstrates the “complementarity” of the two accommodation types.

Cortázar did acknowledge that holiday homes in Andalucía are still in a “lawless” situation given the lack of specific regulation beyond that afforded by traditional rental guidance. (…).

On the flipside, Exceltur published a study in Málaga a few weeks ago, which showed that holiday homes do not represent a complementary offer, but rather are an invasive, substitute product, which offer no real capacity to attract new or different tourist besides the ones who typically use regulated hotels and apartments. Exceltur indicated that the majority of the visitors opting for that formula do so primarily for price reasons (…). Its report also denies that holiday homes can be defined as part of the collaborative economy: only 7% of homes advertised on digital platforms – the real driver behind the sector – involve free exchange and are offered in return for no payment. The rest, according to Exceltur, represent “a huge business”.

Original story: La Opinión de Málaga (by José Vicente Rodríguez)

Translation: Carmel Drake