EDWIN WEINDORFER

Spain 2021 | TOURISM | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Edwin Weindorfer, CEO of Emotion Group, about the importance of Mallorca, the global golf industry, and the company's priorities on the island.

What were the contributing factors for Emotion Group to establish in Mallorca, and what does the island represent for your operations today?

I have always had a personal connection to Mallorca. Additionally, I have been running the Stuttgart Tournament ATP, which is the Mercedes Cup, since 2007. Now, I also run the Vienna Tournament ATP 500 and Berlin. I met Rafa Nadal in Stuttgart 2007, when he won the tournament. He is the only player to win the Mercedes Cup three times, including in 2015 when there was a transition to a grass court. From this relationship and the fact that Wimbledon was looking for new tournaments on grass courts, we started in Mallorca in 2015 with the WTA Women's Tournament. Tony Nadal became our tournament director, and Rafa Nadal was practicing in the venue because he loved the grass court. This club is the only Grand Slam club in the world with original Wimbledon grass. We plan to have a close relationship with Wimbledon and the club. This is basically a Wimbledon of the south in Santa Ponsa. And we have a tournament in effect around Rafa Nadal. We sold our WTA tournament to Birmingham, which is when we decided to open the ATP Tournament. We signed everything in 2019. However, the pandemic later hit in 2020, halting all tournament plans. In 2021, we saw the start again of ATP, which was huge. And we had three of the top five players here. Now, the club itself is not owned by Emotion Group, but by Mallorca Country Club S.L. I run the Mallorca Country Club with a partner and own the operations of the club. We have big plans for the club, as well as the Balearic Islands. We have produced the largest sports event of the island with the ATP Tournament and the Mallorca Championship. We want to focus on premium sports, such as golf and tennis, at the club, as well as being a meeting point for local society and business. We have a stadium at the club where we want to host events and classical music festivals.

What potential do you see to further develop the golf industry in Mallorca through sports events?

In tennis, we are number one in Europe because we run the tournaments in Vienna, Mallorca, Stuttgart, Berlin, and Cologne. We used to run the Austrian Golf Open for 10 years, which was a PGA European Tour. We have experience in that industry and with top players. From this experience, we also formed the Ryder Cup bid for Austria in 2016. We lost that bid to Italy, although we did come in second. I have always wanted to bring this experience to Mallorca, though previously we could not find a good date for the tour. However, we now have one, so we are in the final process with the European PGA Tour to sign a long-term agreement that can be held at the end of March or beginning of April. That is also in the interest of tourism to promote the golf business at the beginning of the year.

What is your assessment of the economy of the sports industry in Mallorca?

This is our main business, and we are doing research and studies with institutes and companies to determine the return of investment, firstly for tourism and the government and secondly for sponsors. There are two components. One is the media impact. For example, when Novak Djokovic came for the ATP Tournament, which was aired in over 100 countries, he publicly stated how much he loves Mallorca, which was a huge impact for sponsors and Mallorca. Another component is what is actually produced with revenue. At the moment, COVID-19 complicates this. Typically, there are 30,000-40,000 spectators; however, we have had a restricted capacity of 1,500 a day, which is a total of 12,000 during the tournament. In a normal year of tennis, we occupy approximately 2,000 room nights per year just for the players and their staff. With golf, it is even higher, between 5,000 and 8,000, when we include their additional staff, as well as television and the media. That is a direct impact, not counting the fans flying in to watch the tournaments. This has a great impact that is also of high quality. Tennis and golf spectators check into four-star and five-star hotels, hire nice rental cars, and eat at nice restaurants. These tourists spend money here to benefit the community. There are studies show that golf and tennis players spend more money per day than a traditional tourist, for example. Sports such as these, including for example equestrian, show there is a higher return of investment and impact on the economy. For every euro spent by someone coming for golf, you can count on two and half euros coming in, which is part of the circular economy that it is intended to be created in Mallorca.

What are the main priorities of the company in Mallorca?

Two years ago, our main goal was ATP tennis. Now, we are here still in the middle of a pandemic, which hit our business sector fairly hard with the lack of revenue from tickets and hospitality. Now, we are closing down on the golf contracts, and the first ATP tennis Tournament was a huge success. Then, there is also our wonderful country club that gives unique opportunities. For me, that is enough for the next few years. I would like to also see myself involved in classical music festivals. Coming from Salzburg, which hosts the largest classical music festival and is the hometown of Mozart, this is in my blood. This could be a concept to integrate top classical music events at some of these unique locations with one of our partners, who does a lot in cultural business in Mallorca. I am definitely looking into adding something to the cultural area. I know many of our partners would like to see something similar as well. There have been a few events this year, including a performance by Ana Netrebko, the famous opera singer.