The Legacy of Sporting Events in Mallorca: A Forum to Reflect on the Role of Sport in Tourism

April 24, 2024

The Legacy of Sporting Events in Mallorca: A Forum to Reflect on the Role of Sport in Tourism

The forum, organized by Johan Cruyff Institute in collaboration with IRONMAN Spain, took place at the Zafiro Palace Alcudia, the Official Sponsor of the competition, on the island of Mallorca. There, industry professionals analyzed how the world of sport can become a crucial driver for boosting tourist destinations.

In recent years, the increase in destination sporting events has significantly contributed to the growth of the tourism industry. In fact, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), sports tourism generated a total income of 1.552 billion euros in Spain in 2023. With the aim of analyzing this synergy, Johan Cruyff Institute, in collaboration with IRONMAN Spain, organized a forum to share knowledge, experiences, and trends in this industry. The experts who participated in the forum came from various sectors: from sport event organizers to tourism companies and sports brands, including local authorities, to discuss the legacy of this type of tourism in Mallorca.

The forum aimed to highlight the multiple intersections between the tourism and sport industries, examining this relationship from various perspectives: marketing strategies, economic impact, sustainable practices, and collaborations with sport institutions. “This forum represents a great opportunity to explore how sporting events can drive tourism development, enhancing the destination’s brand projection and catalyzing substantial economic and social benefits,” said Román Pascual, Sales Manager at Johan Cruyff Institute.

The event was co-organized by IRONMAN Spain, one of the world’s most recognized racing companies, with more than 300 annual events and over 60 offices worldwide. It featured participation from Agustí Pérez, the company’s general director in Southern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and Italy. The forum included the presentation of the Zafiro IRONMAN 70.3 Alcudia-Mallorca race, a must-attend event for athletes from around the world. The forum was held at the Zafiro Palace Alcudia, the Official Sponsor of the competition, located in Port d’Alcudia. Indeed, one of the forum panels included the presence of Devid Boon, the Sales Manager Groups & Sports at Zafiro Hotels.

“This event is a key platform to discuss the impact of sporting events on the tourism promotion of destinations. We will not only analyze how these can boost tourism and strengthen the brand of a place but also how to maximize their economic, social, and environmental benefits. At  Johan Cruyff Institute, we believe in sport as a force for change, and this forum will be essential to fostering dialogue that translates into concrete actions for our community and the tourism industry,” stated Cristina Palés, Marketing Director at Johan Cruyff Institute. The event featured discussion panels with prominent professionals from the national and international sectors, organized by strategic themes.

Panel 1: Boosting Destinations through Sport

  • Antoni Homar, Corporate Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer – Zafiro Hotels

With 14 exclusively four and five-star establishments located on the islands of Mallorca and Menorca, Zafiro Hotels is a reference in the tourism of the Balearic Islands.

  • Jacco van der Woude, General Manager — IQTS

With over 25 years of experience, this destination agency specializes in organizing sport events on the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca.

  • Ian Livesey, Head of Balearics, Mainland Spain – Andorra, Lapland & Iceland at TUI Musement —

Musement is TUI’s open platform for tours and activities, one of the world’s leading tourism groups. With 6,000 employees – 300 of them in its Mallorca headquarters – TUI Musement serves 13.5 million customers per year.

The Legacy of Sporting Events in Mallorca: A Forum to Reflect on the Role of Sport in Tourism

Panel 1: Boosting Destinations through Sport. Antoni Homar, Jacco van der Woude and Ian Livesey

How can sport become a driver to boost tourist destinations? This question was the trigger for this panel, which analyzed how sporting events can attract visitors and strengthen a destination’s identity. Antoni Homar said, “The first thing tourists ask for is to adapt to their needs, and this way we have been able to highlight the different services we offer. Whether it’s improving facilities or adapting menus, it’s important to make all necessary resources available to athletes.”

Jacco van der Woude cited Barcelona and the 1992 Olympics as an example of how sport can boost a tourist destination. “One could say that event was the launch of Barcelona, which then became a city with very high tourist demand,” he said. Another panel participant was Ian Livesey, who highlighted the importance of sustainable practices in event organization: “We have a large sustainability department, which allows us to approach this issue from different areas, whether it be transportation, advertising, or the materials used.”


Panel 2: How the Destination Prepares to Host a Sporting Event

  • Agustí Pérez, Senior Regional Director South EMEA — The IRONMAN Group

With a global portfolio of endurance sport including over 230 events and a million participants each year, IRONMAN is one of the world’s most recognized sport brands.

  • Xisco Lliteras, Founder & CEO — Mallorca 312

It is one of the largest cyclosportive events in Spain, with more than 8,000 participants. With three different distances, this cyclosportive event is one of the best-known in Mallorca.

  • Manuel Fraga, Director of the Real Club Náutico de Palma

This yacht club hosts some of the most prestigious sailing competitions in the world, including the Palma Vela, the Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar, and the Copa del Rey.

The Legacy of Sporting Events in Mallorca: A Forum to Reflect on the Role of Sport in Tourism

Panel 2: How the Destination Prepares to Host a Sporting Event. Agustí Pérez, Xisco Lliteras and Manuel Fraga

The participants of this panel discussed strategies and considerations to take into account when organizing sporting events. Topics such as strategic planning, infrastructure and logistics, economic impact, and marketing were addressed. Agustí Pérez emphasized the importance of participant experience: “We work to ensure everyone who comes to IRONMAN enjoys it, whether they come as a participant or a spectator. We focus on making sure all event attendees have an unforgettable experience.”

Xisco Lliteras highlighted the relationship between organizers, authorities, and the population: “A key variable is that administrations are prepared to host a sporting event. This means knowing how to manage it, how to authorize it, how to handle information processes along with the organization. It is also important that society wants to host this event.” Finally, Manuel Fraga discussed the need to generate work teams: “It is important to think beyond the sporting part of the event. The biggest challenge is to create multidisciplinary groups to cover all the dimensions of the organization of an event. For this reason, our work teams are made up of people from different disciplines, such as sustainability or communication.”


Panel 3: Activation and Measurement of Sponsorship in a Sporting Event

  • Devid Boon, Sales Manager Groups & Sports at Zafiro Hotels

In addition to sponsoring top-level sport events like Zafiro IRONMAN 70.3 Alcúdia-Mallorca or Zafiro Palma Marathon, the company has a focus on athletes, including facilities and amenities specially designed for the segment.

  • Lisa Hassig, Director Strategic Partnerships & Business Development EMEA — AG1

With a team of over 100 people worldwide, Athletic Greens developed AG1, a scientifically-based supplement made with vitamins, minerals, and bacteria that promote physical health and mental performance.

  • Guillaume Thieulin, Business Manager at France Bike Rentals (FBR)

With a fleet of 500 medium and high-end bicycles, France Bike Rentals offers a bicycle rental service in Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Germany.

The Legacy of Sporting Events in Mallorca: A Forum to Reflect on the Role of Sport in Tourism

Panel 3: Activation and Measurement of Sponsorship in a Sporting Event. Devid Boon, Lisa Hassig and Guillaume Thieulin

In the third panel of the forum, participants analyzed the dynamics of sponsorship and the crucial elements for its success. Through sponsorship, brands can connect with their audiences through the power and excitement of sports. Devid Boon expressed the importance of brands aligning with the event: “As a sponsor, one of the most important things is to align with an event that you believe is alongside your brand. Focus on what you want to achieve in the medium and long term with the brand.”

Lisa Hassig spoke about the difficulty a sponsor faces in reaching their audience: “There is a lot of noise at events, many brands carrying out actions. Everyone is trying to capture attention, so it is very difficult to stand out, but for us, it is very important to stay true to the brand. As a brand, our mission is to get people to take care of their health.” Guillaume Thieulin highlighted the emotional part of the connection between companies and clients: “Our focus is on customer satisfaction. If we receive good comments, good feedback, we know we provided a good service. Customer loyalty, from my perspective, is 60% emotional and 40% financial.”



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