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21 January 2023

FITUR Sports confirms the growing importance of sports tourism in Spain

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The section organised by FITUR, in collaboration with AFYDAD, exceeds all expectations of participation in its first edition.

The monographic space, organised in collaboration with AFYDAD - Spain is sport (Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Sporting Goods), highlighted the Rías Baixas - Diputación de Pontevedra, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands as the preferred national destinations for sports tourism.

FITUR Sports, the monographic space organised by FITUR in collaboration with AFYDAD-Spain is sport (Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Sporting Goods), has exceeded all expectations of participation in its first edition. At the opening of the section, María Valcarce, Director of the Fair, highlighted FITUR's commitment to diversifying and working hand in hand with the national sports industry to create a new high-value space for the Spanish tourism industry. For his part, Enrique Cerezo, President of the Tourism and Sport Commission of the CEOE, stressed that "sport and sports tourism create a brand for Spain as well as also generating business and employment:  more than 1.1% of the whole country, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Sport. If we add the cultural industry, which is so closely related to the sports industry, the joint contribution to the Spanish GDP is around 6%, employing more than a million people".

For the FITUR Sports sessions, data on the sporting habits of European countries were presented. The Nordic states, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France are the leading sports nations. This means that they are, at the same time, the most attractive tourism issuers in terms of market volume, but also in terms of seasonality and spending in the destination. The section has also hosted the exhibition of various success stories: the tourism strategy for sporting events in Rías Baixas-Diputación de Pontevedra, Lanzarote European Sports Destination and Club la Santa, the Gran Trail TrangoWorld Aneto Posets mountain race, and the amateur MadCup tournament.

Digitalisation was another of the trends highlighted at FITUR Sports. According to a report by ISPO, the world's largest sports trade fair, 78% of Europeans surveyed use a technical device when exercising. The most popular one is the mobile phone. Users use apps to log their physical activity or record routes for their runs or hikes. According to data from Strava, the largest digital community of athletes, more than 2 million foreign users used Strava in Spain in 2022. They're mostly from the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The Balearic Islands are the preferred destination, where 36% of all activities registered on Strava were performed by foreigners.


Accessibility to sporting events and adapted sport also had its place at FITUR Sports. Enrique Álvarez Orcajo, President of the Spanish Sports Federation for People with Physical Disabilities, highlighted the needs of the group and the volume of the market they represent.

Félix Jordán de Urríes, Director General of the Fundación Deporte Joven, highlighted the novelties of the new Sports Law and its contribution to the demographic challenge and depopulation through sport, with programmes such as "Demographic Challenge, Sport Challenge", a sponsorship project aimed at rural areas. Ana Muñoz, Deputy Managing Director for Tourism Development and Sustainability of the Secretariat of State for Tourism, has updated the plans and instruments to support sports tourism at the national and European level. Finally, May Peus, Vice-President of the Spanish Sport Association, commented on the vision of federated sport and its role in the development of sports tourism through competitions and events such as the Water Games, held in Murcia in 2021.

Furthermore, FITUR Sports has focused on cycling as a lever for development. The success of all sports such as road cycling, MTB, and record breakers such as Gravel and e-bike have been analysed.

Sports tourism figures

Pending data for 2022, according to the latest Yearbook of Sports Statistics for 2021, Spain received 4.8 million sports tourists, 27% more than in 2020, but still 61% below the 12.6 million in 2019. The type of trip was 64% sports practice to 36% attending a sporting event. With regard to the country of origin of the sports travellers, 79% were Spanish and 21% were foreigners. The international market is still not completely back to normal due to restrictions. Traveller spending amounted to 2.41 million euros, 37% higher than in 2020 but still lower than the 67% in 2019, where the sum of practitioners and spectators exceeded 7.35 million euros.

In 2021, tourism expenditure was divided into 57% expenditure by sports participants and 43% expenditure by those attending a sporting event as members of the public. These figures are the reverse for figures for 2019 before the pandemic, where spending was 35% on sport and 65% on sporting events.

The importance of the international tourist is very important in qualitative terms. In 2021, while 79% of sports tourists were from Spain, in terms of expenditure, foreign tourists (21%) generated half of the expenditure, 50% of the total. In 2019, 33% of sports tourists were international, generating 68% of total sports tourism expenditure in Spain.

FITUR Sports has been made possible thanks to the organisation of IFEMA-FITUR, AFYDAD, Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Distributors of Sporting Goods and the sponsors Olympia Quirón Salud, Pontevedra Provincial Council, the ISPO and Outdoor by ISPO trade fairs, Lanzarote European Sports Destination, Wikiloc, Mundo Tour Sports, World Football Summit, Visit Valencia and Argentina Travel.

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