Catalunya Meetings & Sports initiative boosts sports tourism in Catalonia

Catalan Economy · International Events

14 Mar 2024

The new program aims to position Barcelona-Catalonia as an international destination for organizing and attracting professional sporting events.

The CEO of Catalonia Trade & Investment, Albert Castellanos, and the Secretary-General of Sports and Physical Activity, Anna Caula, presented this afternoon at FC Barcelona's Auditori 1899 the project Catalunya Meetings & Sports. Conceived by the Catalonia Convention Bureau of the Catalan Tourism Agency, in collaboration with ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment and the Catalan Council of Sport, Meetings & Sports, it aims to promote Catalonia in the field of organizing and attracting international meetings, conventions, congresses, and fairs related to the sports industry.

“We hope to strengthen two key economic sectors in Catalonia, tourism and sports, to generate business and increase investments”

Albert Castellanos, Secretary for Business and Competitiveness and CEO of Catalonia Trade & Investment

Albert Castellanos emphasized "the project's transversality through its symbiosis between meetings tourism and sport, as well as the necessary public-private collaboration". With this strategic relationship, the Catalan Government hopes to "strengthen two key economic sectors in Catalonia, to generate business, increase investments, improve international positioning, and drive their transformation".

For her part, the Secretary General of Sport and Physical Activity has highlighted the role of sport as a "generator of economic activity and progress", adding that "Catalonia is a land of sport largely thanks to a network of entities with the experience and expertise to organize major international sporting events successfully". Events that "leave a legacy, it's not just a few days of competition, but we promote the circular sport by creating parallel activities to grow the base of sport in Catalonia".

The presentation event also included a roundtable discussion to debate the opportunities and challenges posed by the double idea of sports and business events. Participants included Albert Balcells, manager of OciSport; Maurici Carbó, coordinator of the AFYDAD Spanish Sports Association; Elisabeth Keegan, manager of Lloret Tourism; Carlos Rabaneda, president of Roc Roi; and Albert Mundet, General Director of Barça Innovation Hub.

Catalonia, a global leader in professional sports events

Catalonia stands out as the region with the highest concentration of sport-related businesses in Europe, boasting nearly 1,400 companies that generate over €6,500 million and employ approximately 32,000 people. Sport is an emerging sector within Catalonia's productive ecosystem and accounts for 2% of Catalonia's GDP. Furthermore, the city of Barcelona ranks fifth in Europe in terms of the number of sports industry startups.

This strength in such a specific sector is crucial for generating and attracting professional events and meetings. Currently, the city of Barcelona ranks seventh globally in terms of sports orientation, according to the Sports Cities Ranking 2023, and first in terms of international attendees, according to the ICCA ranking.

The organizational capacity, entrepreneurial and research spirit, excellent quality of sports facilities, and solid sporting foundation in Catalonia are decisive factors that explain the excellent positioning of Catalonia as regards attracting professional events within the world of sports.

Proof of the excellence of this region in this specialized tourism niche is the organization of the first World Congress on Sports Tourism, held in Lloret de Mar in 2021. This year highlights the hosting of the America's Cup Barcelona 2024, which, although it isn't an event focused entirely on the professional public, is a springboard for blue economy business events.

As regards the agenda of professional meetings related to the world of sports taking place this year in Catalonia, it is also worth mentioning PRO Women in Sports (Barcelona, March 20), the World Congress of the International Association of Sports Press (Santa Susanna, April 27 - May 2), Sea Otter Europe Connect (Girona, September 20-22), the European Sports Business Congress(Barcelona, October 8-11), the Annual Meeting of the International Association of Sports Travel Agencies-ISTAA (Barcelona, November 16-18) and the recently held Sports Tomorrow Congress (Barcelona, February 26 and 27) and Expo Sports (Barcelona, March 8-9).

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