Salou is a popular tourist destination for sports lovers, attracting more than 200,000 visitors each year. The city, with a population of 26,775 inhabitants, offers a wide variety of sporting events, generating around 400,000 overnight stays in campsites, hotels and apartments.
Many tourists travel from central and northern Europe to practice outdoor sports that are not available in their home countries. The city is known for its regattas and is a popular destination for South Korean golfers, Nordic sailors, Saudi footballers and cycling.
Sports tourism in Salou
With a capacity to receive 9 million overnight stays per year, Salou is only comparable on the Spanish coast with Benidorm. The sun and beach model is the main attraction, along with the theme park Port Aventura, which receives more than 5 million annual visitors.
Despite its success, Salou's challenge is to attract more tourists in low seasons such as autumn, winter and spring. The Salou City Council is investing 400,000 euros to promote sporting events and has just presented its most ambitious tourist calendar at the WiZink Center in Madrid, with 21 events scheduled for 2023.
Climate change is causing the winters are getting warmer, which could extend the tourist season in Salou and other coastal tourist areas. This may create new opportunities for the tourism sector, as people may choose to visit places that were previously considered only summer destinations due to their warmer climate.
Salou is investing in new soccer fields and additional sports infrastructure such as an athletics track and a heated Olympic pool, with the aim of attracting teams from around the world for tournaments and training during the winter months.
The mayor of Salou, Pere Granados, points out that sports tourism has great potential and that the city must grow outside of the summer due to the climate emergency that is making winters warmer and summers longer.
This can create new opportunities for the tourism sector in southern Europe, where the climate will be attractive for most of the year.
The Costa Daurada, led by Salou, has been able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by sports tourism to diversify its offer and attract a different audience than the traditional one.
In addition, the collaboration with private initiatives and the commitment to internationally recognized sporting events, such as the Challenge Salou, has made it possible to increase seasonality and generate a positive economic impact in the area. In addition, the collaboration with Manchester City has been a unique opportunity to promote the Costa Daurada brand in the British tourism market.