Spanish golf sector is not yet viable in the long term

by Lorraine Williamson
golf valley, Marbella

MADRID – Golf attracts around 1.2 million tourists to Spain every year. The arrival of these tourists provides a significant additional source of income for the country that not only benefits the sport. However, the Spanish golf sector is far from viable.

The IE University from Segovia recently presented some figures on golf tourism in Spain. The university conducted research into this specific sector together with the Royal Spanish Golf Federation (RFEG) and the National Association of Golf Courses (AECG). 

More than 11 billion euros to Spain every year 

This type of tourist provides an extra income for Spain of almost €11.2 billion per year. Furthermore, golf tourism is responsible for the creation of 121,393 both direct and indirect jobs. In fact, 95% of these employees have permanent contracts and many of them work full-time. 

A nice addition to foreign tourists in the summer 

Although this sport annually attracts many tourists to Spain, the arrival of this type of tourist is seasonal. The peak of the golf season is in the spring and fall. A nice counterpart to the large flow of foreign tourists who mainly come to Spain in the summer for a beach holiday. 

Golf tourists in many areas different from the average tourist 

It is not only the purpose for which golf tourists come to Spain that differs from the average foreign tourist. The period of stay of foreigners who come to play golf in Spain is an average of 11.9 days, often longer than the average stay of 7.4 days. Perhaps less surprisingly, the income level of the golf tourist is also higher than that of the average foreign tourist. 

Not financially viable in the long term 

President Nigorra of the Spanish association of golf courses does say that the sector lacks financial viability. More than 40% of the golf courses in Spain are not sufficiently sustainable, according to him. He has therefore requested a different tax treatment by demanding a reduction in VAT to 10% and more sustainable cadastral appraisals that lower the IBI.

Golf tourists important for other sectors in Spain 

As an argument for this, Nigorra states that the arrival of golf tourists is also beneficial for the sectors that have nothing to do with the sport in the first place. Every one dollar in every eight spent by golfers benefits other sectors. For example, about half of the expenditure is spent on overnight stays and in restaurants. 

Also read: Golf course demolished in favour of nature conservation

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