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26 January 2024

FITUR SPORTS demonstrates the importance of sports tourism as a driver of socio-economic development

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The section dedicated to sports tourism at the International Tourism Fair successfully draws its three professional days to a close today.

FITUR Sports, organised by IFEMA MADRID and AFYDAD Spain is Sport (Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Distributors of Sporting Goods), concludes the professional visitor days of its second edition with a reflection of the union achieved between the tourism and sports industries, through their progress, new features and trends around three key areas: Outdoor Sports, Competitive Sports, Sports Events and Sports Business Travel. It has also gained the support of The Sports Council (Consejo Superior de Deportes, CSD), Turespaña, OMT and CEOE.

At the official opening, José Vicente de los Mozos, Chairman of the Executive Committee of IFEMA Madrid, endorsed the role of IFEMA MADRID as promoter of the 2026 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix in Madrid, and underlined its example in the sports sector as a major competition associated with tourism, by moving around 60,000 people in Europe.

At this event, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, chairman of The Sports Council (CSD), defined health and well-being as a citizen's right, a value that helps societies to live together, and as an industry that creates wealth and employment, and which acquires greater relevance through sports tourism. For her part, Blanca Pérez-Sauquillo, Marketing Director of Turespaña, estimated that more than one million tourists arrived in Spain in 2023 as a result of partaking in a sport in the country. This figure rises to 10 million when it is not the main motivation, but a complementary activity to their trips. This represents a growth of almost 20%, which positions Spain as an important destination for sports tourism.

Also, Andrés de la Dehesa, chairman of AFYDAD - SPAIN IS SPORT, emphasised the organisation of FITUR Sports as a point of union of the values of tourism and sport, with one of the objectives being to give visibility to the vocation of Spanish brands equipping sports tourism. Along these lines, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, explained that "sport is health and well-being, a citizen's right, a value that helps societies to live together and an industry that creates wealth and employment, values that acquire greater relevance through sports tourism". Finally, at the inauguration, Juan Luis Barahona executive chairman of FENEVAL and representing the CEOE, recalled that in 2022 more than 5.1 million trips were initiated mainly due to sport, with a total associated expenditure of €2.4 billion.

France returns to FITUR in a landmark year for sports tourism

Dominique Maulin, director of A Tout France in Spain and Portugal, also took part in the official opening of the section, stating that thanks to FITUR SPORTS and FITUR TECH, France has returned to the International Tourism Trade Fair after ten years. The country is returning to promote its region and attract tourism with high added value due to the opportunity of hosting major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023 and the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A full day of talks with industry representatives

The second edition of FITUR SPORTS consisted of a powerful agenda of debates and round tables with experts from the world of sport and tourism. In these conferences, almost the entire sector was examined from a cross-cutting perspective, with talks on trends in active and adventure tourism, destination strategy and management, sport as a driver of economic development in rural areas, sustainability plans in the natural environment, commercialisation processes, marketing, communication and social networks, and the challenges of accessibility.

Highlights of the event included the twinning of the destinations of Lanzarote and Nazaré through surfing, the presentation of events such as the Total Energies Gran Fondo Alberto Contador cycling race in Oliva, Valencia, and the Padel World Summit taking place in Malaga in May. In addition, in this space numerous disciplines were showcased, such as cycle tourism, surfing, golf or racket sports, sports tourism in Latin America, the vision of elite athletes, the trips of professional teams, competitions, academies and training camps, sportsmen and women travelling for medical and health reasons, among others.

On the first day dedicated to sports tourism in nature, Francesc Boya, Secretary General for the Demographic Challenge of the Spanish Government, highlighted the power of sport as a lever for transformation and socio-economic development in rural environments. The second of these conferences revealed some interesting data and trends in sport in urban environments thanks to the intervention of different experts, associations, city councils and leading companies in the sector.

FITUR Sports closes the professional days with a programme dedicated to major sporting events and sport business travel, with the participation of top representatives from the tourism and sports sectors. Over the weekend, FITUR Sports enables an area for displays and a padel tennis court to promote the sport among the public visiting the fair, which will be attended by leading padel players.