BENIDORM tourist groups say bookings are picking up but add that ‘big-spending’ Russian visitors will be missed due to grounded flights prompted by the Ukraine invasion.

Alex Fratini from the Abreca hospitality association said: “We have members that work a lot with Russians and are concerned because even though their numbers are few, they spend a lot of money.”

Hosbec hoteliers president, Toni Mayor, commented: “There are more than 200,000 Russian travellers that pass through Alicante-Elche airport each year but the greatest numbers go to Salou and Catalunya in general.”

Mayor observed that rising inflation and energy prices caused by the war may have an impact on holiday sector as it tries to put aside two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In addition to hearing about war every day, the situation does not generate confidence to travel the world, especially when Putin is not to be trusted,” added Mayor.

He said that the conflict was likely to have more of an effect on Greece and Turkey holiday bookings due to the larger number of Russian travellers visiting those countries due to their proximity.

Hosbec projects that least 66% occupancy is expected towards the end of March in its member hotels and British visitor numbers are approaching pre-pandemic levels.

10 hotels have reopened in the last week, with a total of 71 Hosbec hotels that are now welcoming guests but still over a third have yet to resume trading.

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