Why tennis is important for the economy

The Mutua Madrid Open turns 20 years old. The consolidation of racket tourism in Spain comes from the good moment that Spanish tennis is experiencing

Ricardo Buendia Iglesias

RICARDO BUENDIA IGLESIAS Associate Professor of Economics and Business Management, University of Alcalá

Sports tourism is in fashion. Now you don't just travel to see new places. It is also done to participate in a marathon, attend a Formula 1 race or experience the final of a Grand Slam.

There are two types of sports tourists: the active ones, who travel to practice some sport, and the passive ones, who come to witness a sporting event of particular interest.

In any case, both are tourists who occupy hotel rooms, eat in restaurants, visit museums, and use public transport and consume leisure activities in the places they visit for sports tourism. In short, they plan the trip and complement the sporting activity they do, or attend, with other types of recreational activities.

In addition, sport can be an important ally of tourism because it allows it to break its seasonal nature.

Following the yellow ball

Tennis offers great opportunities for the development of sports tourism.

With more than one billion fans spread across the world, tennis is the fourth most followed sport in the world, just below football, cricket and field hockey. In addition, it is the fifth sport in the ranking of the most practiced, with some 300 million players.

Some of the main tournaments organized by the ATP, such as the four Grand Slams (Australia Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open) and the Masters1000 tournaments, are organized in countries and cities that offer tourists an excellent cultural and leisure offer (Melbourne, Paris, London, New York, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome, Shanghai…).

Spain, a tennis power

Spain has more than 1,000 tennis clubs distributed throughout its territory, 7% of its population is a tennis fan and concentrates 3.4% of the 87 million tennis players on the planet. In other words, almost 3 million players, a rate that contrasts with the 1.71% of tennis players with respect to the total world population.

On the other hand, the consolidation of racket tourism in Spain (Mutua Madrid Open, Conde de Godó Trophy in Barcelona, ​​Mallorca Championships) comes from the sweet moment that Spanish tennis is experiencing. The good results and triumphs of its tennis players, both in the women's and men's categories, have strengthened its position as a new power in tennis.

So far this century, Spain has been the leader in the number of titles in men's singles. He has more than 200, doubling those obtained by historical tennis powers such as the United States (100), Argentina (86) or France (72).

Ten Spanish tennis players are in the Top100 in the men's category and four Spanish players are in the Top100 in the women's category. But it is that, in addition, these statistics have been maintained in recent years, showing the dominance of Spanish tennis in terms of presence and regularity.

The different origins of these racket greats (Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Asturias, Region of Murcia) also place them in the position of ambassadors of their places of origin. Their international visibility can therefore serve to make their places of origin known abroad.

Tennis courts in Sotogrande, San Roque, Cádiz. /

Shutterstock / Rob Wuino

Tourist Spain: sun and snowshoes

An example of the tourist benefits of an event related to the world of tennis is the Mutua Madrid Open, which turns 20 in 2022. The impact it has on the city is exponential: the matches that take place over its two-week run are broadcast to more than 170 countries. This represents a total estimated audience of 140 million viewers worldwide.

Racquet tourists who travel to Spain to attend tennis tournaments have some common characteristics: their average age is between 35 and 50 years, they have a medium-high economic level, they come mainly from Great Britain, Germany, Holland and the countries Nordic, they already know the country and are usually loyal customers.

In 2017, the Mutua Madrid Open had an economic effect for the Spanish capital of more than 107 million euros, generated more than 3,400 jobs and an advertising impact of more than 152 million euros.

There are reasons to think that tennis can be an important ally of tourism in Spain:

1. The quality of the facilities, activities, services, events, competitions and characters can make this sport an essential tool for promoting the country's tourism brand.

2. The success achieved by tennis players trained in Spain can serve as a hook to attract tourists from different markets, by placing the country on the international sports scene.

3. Integrating sports experiences into tourism makes it possible to break its seasonality.

Sport has become a strategic axis of the public policies of the Spanish Government. Thus, taking advantage of the impulse of the offer of physical and sports activities, complementary activities should be developed and promoted to publicize the natural, artistic and cultural heritage of the areas or territories where sports tourism programs are developed.

This article has been published in '
The Conversation'.

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