The Costa del Sol has for years been highly popular with both Russian tourists and those looking to settle permanently. The infrastructure, schools, property, food and – of course – beaches make it a shining prospect. But recent statistics have revealed just how much Marbella owes to its Russian society, for the glitzy resort is where Russians spend the second highest amount of money in Spain, beaten only by Barcelona’s Paseo de Gracia. In particular, Puerto Banús, the epicentre of high-end shops and lively nightlife, drew 10.2% of all Russian spending in Spain in 2014. The data, produced by Global Blue consultancy group, shows Puerto Banús comfortably beats other well-known Spanish destinations, and doubles the Madrid district of Salamanca – which received 5.5% of Russian spending last year. The number coming over for holidays is rising as well, with more than 60,000 passengers from Russia registered as landing at Málaga airport last year. This is a noteworthy 15.6% increase on the previous year…so much for the fears over the effects of a devaluing Russian rouble. The Costa del Sol’s tourism minister Elías Bendodo recently extolled the growth potential of the Russian market at a tourism conference in Madrid. “We need to continue to encourage visitors from Russia, as they are well-educated and interested in culture, history and heritage,” he explained. In order to achieve just this, the Costa del Sol tourism board invited 16 lucky travel agents from Russia’s capital city, Moscow, on a tour of Málaga province. The group watched the world go by in the picturesque Old Town of Marbella, explored Puerto Banús and were even taken up the beautiful road to Ronda. Here in the ancient white town they sampled the old and new of Andalucía, with a traditional flamenco show followed by a trip to the Ascari racing circuit. The visit emphasised Marbella’s special blend of authenticity and style, the reason the Russian market fell in love with this small section of the Mediterranean to begin with. And, with Marbella slowly leading the way in Spain’s economic recovery, the Russian market could grow more important by the year.
Russian love affair with Puerto Banús