Malaga, Spain – The Costa del Sol is witnessing an unprecedented boom in car rentals, with bookings reaching a historic high, exceeding 2019 figures by 2%. This comes as a refreshing indicator of a robust recovery in the tourism sector, which had been severely impacted by the global pandemic.
According to data from the National Business Federation of Car Rental with and without Driver (Feneval), the Costa del Sol has become the top-performing location for car rentals on the Spanish mainland. “In addition to local visitors, the sector has seen a massive amount of international tourism,” says Juan Luis Barahona, president of Feneval. The influx mainly comprises visitors from Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Ana María García, president of the Association of Vehicle Rental Service Businesses (Aesva), stated that the entire fleet is currently being used to meet this overwhelming demand. However, rising operational costs pose a significant challenge to the sector's profitability. “Apart from the increase in energy and personnel costs, the vehicles are up to 30% more expensive,” García said. She emphasized that while rental prices have gone up, they are still less expensive compared to last year. “The challenge this season is to cope with these increased costs,” she added.
Barahona further remarked, “It seems that this summer will undoubtedly be the one of a clear return to normality, at least this is what the latest available data show in terms of occupancy levels and booking rates.” He also stressed the importance of the car rental sector within the broader tourism ecosystem. “At the moment, we are moving around 650,000 cars, between passenger cars and commercial vehicles, when in 2019 the circulating fleet exceeded 800,000 cars.”
Feneval, representing over 800 companies that offer more than 20 million services per year, has recently petitioned the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism to reserve 20% of all new vehicles in Spain for the rental car industry.
García also highlighted the strength of local destinations and mentioned that between 80 and 85% of car rentals throughout Andalucía are concentrated on the Costa del Sol. “The demand is very high at the airport and in the resorts, but we are also noticing this summer that more and more people are renting a vehicle to explore new corners of the province or the region,” she said.
García called for the car rental sector to be taxed at the preferential rate of 10% in line with other tourism activities, recognizing its vital role in promoting tourism.
Despite the challenges presented by the increased operational costs, the historic highs in car rental bookings mark an encouraging trend for the tourism industry in the Costa del Sol and Spain at large.