After nearly 7 weeks of lockdown, Malaga and Spain are starting to move forward to the next stage of this rollercoaster ride. ‘What happens next?’ is the big question, particularly in a country and city that relies hugely on overseas visitors come to enjoy its attractions. So, we thought it would be interesting to think about what’s next for Malaga tourism as we ride out the first wave of Covid-19.
We don’t pretend to have the answers. Unprecedented has been the watchword accompanying this whole process and several months into the pandemic, no one has any real certainty of what’s on the horizon for tourism. But at Guide to Malaga, we do have some thoughts that we’ve included in this article.
One thing we do know for sure is that what’s next for Malaga tourism will have little to do with what we’re used to. Until there’s a vaccine and/or effective treatment for Covid-19, social distancing has to continue and lockdown can return.
Tourism in Malaga, like so many other great destinations in the world, is going to have to live with a new reality, the new normal.
What’s next for Malaga restaurants and bars?
One of the most popular tabs on Guide to Malaga is the Eat section, listing our recommended venues to eat out in the city. Most of our fans are foodies and everyone has their favourite restaurant, bar and/or café. So, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest concerns about what’s next for Malaga tourism are these venues.
Eateries are going to have to cut their capacity to comply with social distancing rules. The larger ones will be at an advantage here as they’ll have room to spread out. Those with outside terraces will also find it (relatively) easy to put at least 2 metres between tables. But the small venues face a big challenge.
An alternative, currently being touted by some analysts, is Perspex or glass screens between tables so that diners are shielded from themselves. This obviously doesn’t add to the experience. But faced with a screen between our table and next door’s or the restaurant closing down, we know which one we prefer. And there’s scope for creative design here.
What’s next for Malaga tourism-related activities?
Then there are all the companies who offer tourism-related activities in Malaga. Tours, car and bike-hire companies, flamenco venues, museums… the list certainly runs long. Like the restaurant scenario, much will depend on space and whether the venues can guarantee visitors are far enough away from each other.
We think that’s fairly easy for museums – if you strictly control the flux of visitors as they flow through the exhibition room by room, social distancing should be easy. Tours will probably have to reduce their numbers, definitely not a bad thing. We’re certainly not fans of large groups of people on a tour and prefer the personalised touch offered by many. Several great tour companies in Malaga already do this and very well.
And car-hire companies should be able to get business back since people will be travelling with their family mostly. Bike hire companies is another fairly straight-forward option (we think) as long as, again, just a small family unit is cycling together.
What’s next for Malaga hotels?
We think boutique hotels should have no problem with social distancing since they’re usually small and have a limited number of rooms. The larger, more crowded hotels have a challenge on their hands and will have to cut their capacity.
Hotel buffet breakfasts may become a thing of the past. We’ve read that some international chains are going to do room service breakfast only. Or those with large dining areas or outside terraces could serve breakfast with guests having to book their slot. No strolling down for breakfast when you fancy or grazing the buffet bar for hours at a time. But again, better than nothing.
What’s next for Malaga flights?
Of all tourism-related activities, this is the big unknown and the one, at the moment, with the fewest answers. The first question that hangs in the air is which airlines are still going to be operating once air travel is allowed again.
Then, there’s the issue of social distancing – no small challenge in the check-in and boarding queues. And that’s before you’ve even got on the plane itself. Will airlines be forced to leave the middle seat in each row empty? And every other row empty? That makes for a nicer experience – quicker boarding on and off, but much more expensive tickets.
Will the new normal mean a return to the idea of a holiday being a luxury? Will flying become a treat rather than something you regularly do? Anyone older than 25 will remember this and I don’t think those are necessarily bad memories.
What’s next for Malaga events?
This is another biggie and we think the sector that will take the longest to claw its way back. Social distancing is almost impossible at an event and no venue can break even, let along make money, if it can only sell tickets for a third of its capacity.
Events in Malaga like Carnival, Easter, the Christmas lights… draw the crowds in their thousands. That will inevitably be a thing of the past for at least the next 9 to 18 months. Events will have to reinvent themselves in the short and medium term. Again, room for creativity and no doubt the lockdown experience (online streaming etc) will help event organisers think outside the box.
So, what is next for Malaga tourism?
There’s no doubt about it – this new reality contains some real challenges. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t happen successfully. Malaga is a dynamic city with hard-working businesses, keen to offer their very best to the visitor.
Some things won’t change. The city will still be here with all its wonderful architecture, food and experiences. The sun will still be shining for those 320 days a year and the Mediterranean will still sparkle very blue. And the locals will still offer their warm welcome.
So, more than ever the city will have to draw on its natural strengths. Maybe you’ll have to pay more for a flight. Perhaps your hotel won’t be offering breakfast and your favourite restaurant might be kitted out with glass partitions. But, the Malaga you know and love will still be here. Just slightly different.
And Guide to Malaga
While we work out what’s next for Malaga tourism, you can keep in tune with the city via our My Malaga At Home section. The dedicated section on the website brings the city to a screen near you and our social media channels have regular #MyMalagaAtHome and #MalagaDreaming posts.
You can keep up with what’s happening in Malaga (even on lockdown!) with our free fortnightly newsletter. Sign up here. And at Guide to Malaga, we have some exciting projects in the pipeline so that we too do our bit to helping Malaga adapt to the new reality. News of these will follow shortly.
Meanwhile, stay safe 💪 and we hope to see you very soon in Malaga!
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