EACH year, visitors from all over the world flood the Costa del Sol, looking for a change of scene and a break from their daily lives.
Many come for the beautiful beaches or the famously good weather, but a surprisingly large number are drawn by the opportunity to learn Spanish.
Malaga, with over thirty schools dedicated to teaching Spanish to foreigners, has been notably successful in attracting these tourists, second only to Salamanca in popularity as a language tourism destination.
The language instruction industry is financially very good for Andalucía, generating almost 80 million euros yearly for the region. About half of that comes from Malaga alone.
Yearly, about 33,000 tourists arrive at the Costa del Sol looking to improve their grasp of the Spanish language, while simultaneously vacationing in the beauty of Spain’s southern coast.
While some tourists come and take classes for a few weeks during their summer holidays, many stay for months at a time, and some even take classes throughout the year.
Over a third of these students are reported to return to their language school each year.
Though the majority of these students are German or Swiss, tourists come from as far away as China and India to improve their Spanish while enjoying the beauty of the coast.
But these popular schools are important not only for the money they generate directly for Andalucía, as they affect other aspects of the tourism industry as well.
While some schools exclusively offer language instruction, more popular programs include trips around the area, while others offer cultural activities such as trips to flamenco performances, concerts, or Spanish chefs.
Some schools encourage their students to take advantage of everything Andalucía has to offer by advertising local business and cultural opportunities.
Some schools work with local business to provide discounts to their students.
If the language tourism business in Malaga and the rest of Andalucía continues with this level of success, the entire region will benefit.