Sports tourism generated 2,441 million euros for the Spanish economy last year, ten per cent more than during the previous year. Similar strong growth is forecast for this year.
The figures were released yesterday by the ministry for sports and culture in Madrid. The Balearics Islands are the most active destination, not only for foreign visitors but also residents. The study discovered that 54.2 per cent of the Balearic population regularly practise a form of sport each week, establishing the region as the most active in Spain. There are now 1,324 companies and businesses in the Balearics involved in the sports sector. Last year, the region's sports tourism industry invested 200 million euros in improving its services.
One of the fastest growing sports in the Balearics, especially in Majorca, is cycling. Majorca is going to be the main holiday destination for European cyclists this year with an estimated 250,000 cyclists, a 25% increase over last year, expected to come to the island. The increase in cyclists has been progressive since 2010, hence the hotels' commitment to adapting facilities and services to cater for this type of tourism. It plays a key role in decentralising the season as nearly 80% of cyclists come in the low season months from December to May.
Nearly 200 hotels on the island were open during the winter for cyclists. Artá, Muro, Alcúdia-Can Picafort, the Playa de Palma and Cala Serena hotels have all experienced a significant increase in their occupancy levels during the low and middle season months with the arrival of cyclists and their families.
The Majorca Hoteliers Federation says: "The demand for Majorca has been growing steadily since 2010 and this positively affects all the productive sectors, which is why the turnover generated by cycling and bicycle tourism will exceed 300 million euros this year, mainly because the main international professional cycling teams have chosen the island to train and compete.
"Each professional team brings between 60 and 70 people and usually occupies a whole hotel."
The federation values this tourism product in a positive way: "Businesses have spent years investing in equipment to offer a complete package to cycle tourists and professional teams. And more and more hotels have opted for this sector of active tourism and have installed workshops for storage, maintenance and the repair of bicycles, training gyms and specialised menus for athletes," says the executive vice president, María José Aguiló.