What does golf mean in economic terms for Mallorca, and how does the association give visibility to this aspect of golf?
Although golf is undoubtedly a sport, it has become a tourist activity both in Mallorca and Spain as whole. There are about 7,000 federated players on the island, of which one-third are non-residents. There are 23 courses on the Balearic Islands and 21 in Mallorca, and with 19 of the 21 golf courses on the island, the Association of Golf Courses of Mallorca represents almost 100% of the sector. According to the Assessment of the Impact of Golf on the Spanish economy, the “Golf satellite account” gives us an important fact: out of every EUR8 a golf tourist spends on the island, only EUR1 goes to the golf course, which indicates its great spillover effect. The 19 golf courses in Mallorca surveyed in the study had a direct turnover of EUR81.65 million, which means that golf tourism in Mallorca generates a direct expenditure of EUR653.2 million. There are many who want to reduce the number of tourists. Obviously, we cannot welcome 12-14 million tourists in three months. However, reducing the number is not the solution. Instead, what should be done is to extend the season to spread this number more evenly over the year, which golf can contribute to. In addition, Mallorca has a great advantage over other destinations. We are about an hour and a half by plane from any European airport, we have an extremely favorable climate, and an impressive cultural offerings. Likewise, in golf, 89.2% of the jobs are permanent contracts. The government of the island has been betting more on golf for a few years now. It has supported the Road to Mallorca project and, in which the island will host the final of the European Challenge Tour for four years, and more recently the Mallorca Golf Open.
What are the advantages of golfing in Mallorca compared to other destinations, both in Spain and abroad?
Mallorca has solid connectivity and proximity, and any course can be accessed within one hour driving distance. It also has a natural advantage that allows it to offer a wide variety of activities (hiking, water sports, cultural tourism, and so on). All these make the island a true pearl in the Mediterranean.
What is the foreign demand for golf on the island, and how has this evolved in the context of COVID-19?
Some 74% of our income comes from the sale of green fees, including local players, although around 90% are foreigners. With COVID-19, this 74% has disappeared. Annual membership fees contribute to 20% of our income on average, though these figures vary depending on the course, geographical location, the number of members, and so on. The golfing sector was badly hit by the pandemic, especially because golf courses need a high level of maintenance, which is more expensive than on the mainland because of the transportation of machinery, sand and other inputs. We are therefore advocating for lowering the cadastral rates or the VAT. Our industry needs large investments in equipment and facilities, and we cannot forget that ultimately golf courses are SMEs.
How does the association work to raise the awareness of golf as an activity that can contribute to the sustainability of the environment?
It is often believed that golf courses take up a lot of space, but in the case of Mallorca, they only represent 0.3% of the island. Furthermore, golf does not consume drinking water, but treated water. If we were to add up all the water concessions per year and consume them all at 100%, we would represent 6% of treated water. Golf courses have been working toward greater sustainability. We are all trying to use a grass type that requires less water. More and more hybrid machinery is also becoming available. Even so, we are already one of the most environmentally friendly industries, as we are effectively a nature reserve. All golf courses have lakes, which serve both as an ornamental feature and a water reservoir. They also represent a resting area for a great variety of migratory birds. The association works with media and other institutions to shed light on how golf is a contributor to sustainability in the island.