ThereÂ’s an old saying Â“you donÂ’t know what youÂ’ve got until itÂ’s goneÂ” well I wonder how many hoteliers and restaurateurs are pondering that now? It has been noticeable yet again this year, the tourists that in the good old days used to land on the Costa del Sol like a swarm of locusts, have obviously holidayed elsewhere.
The repercussions of this drop in tourist numbers can be seen everywhere, for example, in the number of bars and restaurants up for sale or those still trading but finding it increasingly difficult to turn in a profit.
With months of guaranteed sunshine and some spectacular scenery you would think that we were in an unassailable position as far as the tourist industry went. So what happened to burst the bubble? Simple, greed.
At one time people came here because it was good value for money and many companies in the leisure industry became very rich. However instead of looking to the future and keeping a weather eye on the way tourism has been changing over the years, hoteliers and restaurateurs have continued to offer an old- fashioned service, with very modern prices. What they have done is to shoot themselves in the foot, why not follow the example of the airline operators, who, when faced with lack of demand, actually lowered their prices? The reason for this failure is complacency, just sitting back and waiting for your customers to come to you, simply because of the weather and regardless of the cost is assuming your customers have no choice. Two weeks for a family of four in a hotel on the Costa del Sol will cost you roughly the same as a similar holiday in Florida; the big difference is the level of service you will receive in America.
Back in the early seventies it was a world wide joke that Spanish hotel windows opened onto building sites, there were even sit coms made on the strength of it. Over thirty years later nothing has changed, except people are no longer finding it funny. So where have the tourists gone? The answer is they have gone somewhere that offers better service and better prices. Getting them back could take years and will mean learning from past mistakes. The world is getting smaller thanks to modern transport and far flung parts of the world becoming more accessible, therefore the old favourite holiday destinations need to pull their collective socks up.
One screamingly obvious tourist friendly improvement would be to postpone non essential road works until the end of the season. But every year, with breathtaking arrogance and a total disregard for paying guests, major tourist routes or even whole town centres are dug up for weeks, during the height of the season.
There is a whole world out there, holiday makers do have a choice. If Spain doesnÂ’t want to become the Â“Johnny no matesÂ” of Europe, then it is about time our leisure industry woke up to the fact that people come here for a holiday, not a hard time!