HOTELS in Spain have been hit by a wave of Christmas cancellations as holidaymakers call off bookings amid concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The tentative revival in the hotel sector in the country has stalled as airline and hotel bookings took a tumble in recent weeks as infection rates across Europe soared.
Although hotel bosses say it is too early to gauge the impact of the variant on the travel and hospitality industries, new data suggests the worst of the crisis may not be over almost two years since the first coronavirus outbreak.
The Costa del Sol, a favourite among holidaymakers looking for winter sunshine, has been hit particularly hard by the latest wave of hotel cancellations.
According to research by the Association of Hotel Entrepreneurs of the Costa del Sol Hotels (Aehcos) only 55.83% of rooms had remain booked in hotels between December 23, 2021 and January 2, 2022.
Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, hotels along the Costa del Sol typically saw 78% occupancy over those dates.
Although the group celebrated relatively high numbers of bookings in November they said the revival in demand has been snuffed out by Omicron.
President of the Malaga hoteliers, Jose Luque said: “When the sector began to regain confidence and international tourism seemed to take flight, a new variant of COVID-19 has once again put hotel business in Malaga at a huge disadvantage.”
He added that while the low number of occupancy in hotels in Malaga was ‘not very promising’ he was optimistic that despite the ’setback’ hotels in Malaga will be able to recover quickly once the infection rate reduces.
He said: “It is a highly contagious variant that can cause unvaccinated groups and the most vulnerable to overwhelm our health services.
“Fear over this variant has undoubtedly led to an increase in the number of cancellations.
“Hopefully vaccination progresses at a good pace and that, together with the immunity that we are acquiring, we can enjoy a much better 2022.”
Currently, 71 hotels in Malaga remain closed, representing 21.5% of the total hotels in the city.