Almeria hoteliers optimistic about summer bookings

THE tourism sector in Almeria is feeling optimistic about this year, as uprisings throughout the Arab world encourage travellers to areas where they feel safer.

Many EU citizens who planned to travel to Tunisia or Egypt have cancelled on the recommendations of their governments, and others are afraid to travel to popular destinations, such as Morocco, Jordan and Syria afraid of what they might encounter.

However, the Spanish coasts, including Almeria, have traditionally been a favourite, particularly with the British market, with those seeking sun, sand, and now, safety.

There has been a direct relationship between the political upheavals in the Arab countries and a rise of between 30 and 40 per cent for online bookings on the Costa del Sol alone for this Spring and Summer, according to Sonia Tello, director of Tui Hotelbeds

Most of the bookings are coming from the British market, although experts predict a boom in bookings from elsewhere in Europe.

More than 1.3 million British Nationals visited Egypt in 2009, Egyptian Ministry of Tourism data shows.

Many tour operators reacted quickly and immediately diverted tourists heading to Tunisia and Egypt to the Spanish costas.

The Costa Blanca and Canary Islands are the areas which are benefitting most from the need to relocate tourists and find new destinations.

In Granada alone, in February, occupancy rose by 15 per cent in many hotels compared to last year, according to the Frontur Tourism Movement Survey.

The President of the Almeria Association of Hoteliers and Tourism, Javier Arnedo, has said that so far, the effects have not been noticed as much in the province, but is hopeful about this summer.

Almeria travel agents do report however, that no-one is asking for information about the countries where the problems have arisen, and that several trips to such destinations have been cancelled, since the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended postponing all but strictly necessary trips to the countries. Instead they are looking to the Canary Islands, Eastern Europe and Turkey, while many prefer to stay closer to home, which is boosting national bookings.


By Jennifer Leighfield

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