An event of such global sporting importance as the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championship, can also provide an economic boost for business in the host location. It may not be the same for all sectors, but it’s clear to see. You only need to look around at the bars and terraces in Pradollano, especially during the sunniest days.
President of the Sierra Nevada Business Association, Enrique de la Higuera, offered his take on what the championships has brought over the last few weeks, highlighting that overall, «The influence has been totally positive. This is a worldwide showcase for us, given the international coverage. People are getting to see us from all around the world, which is really good for this resort and for skiing in Spain».
Some businesses have enjoyed better immediate returns than others during the championships, although most agree that the long-term impact of being placed on the world stage, will benefit all in the future. De la Higuera explained, «Hotel and accommodation percentages are very high, plus in the food and drinks sector, it’s very good not only for the massive influence of those staying here in the resort, but also lots of local visitors coming up here to see some of the events». On the other hand, he understood and recognised, «there are other sectors such as ski equipment hire shops or skiing schools who haven’t benefited as much, because most of the visitors are tied in some way to the championships, rather than being mostly tourists».
The average occupancy of hotels and apartments has been in excess of 90% and many have been completely full. Cristina Civantos, responsible for sales with the Meliá hotels in Sierra Nevada, observed, «The World Championships have really made a difference, especially with the high number of reservations we have. It’s making for a very good season for us and this event is an excellent showcase for the resort. We see this as a really good opportunity».
Cintia Muñoz is a waitress at ‘El Vertical’, a bar and restaurant which has been constantly full of clients throughout the last two weeks. «Many more people are coming here, but not as many tourists as there are workers and volunteers with the championships.» One reason for that is because event workers «have been offered special prices» for the duration of the championships.
Boasting an excellent location in Plaza de Andalucía, bar and eatery N’Ice has proven to be a very popular and trendy nightspot. One of its waitresses, Victoria León, enthused, «There’s been a lot of people here and lots of foreigners. Two of the teams competing here have been coming here for drinks all the time.» They have also organised concerts and live events in the plaza, which has also boosted the number of clients. «They’ve also had a really positive impact, making it even busier for us here than during the Christmas holidays», she observed.
El Cartujano is one of the most popular bars in Sierra Nevada, owned by Juan Morales for over thirty years. «There are some days busier than others, but it’s been great overall. Everyone has been coming here... French, German, British, Italian... From four in the afternoon when they finish their work, to beyond eleven at night, enjoying beers and wine», he explained contentedly.
Immediate gains aren’t experienced by everyone during the championships. Joaquín Durán who works at ‘El Enebro’, a store selling and renting skiing equipment, has noticed a downturn in business. Mainly due to most visitors being linked with the competitions and having their own equipment, which means «they’re not converted into clients» in the same way as tourist visitors. However, he believes that «long-term it’s good for publicity here, because it could generate even more interest amongst tourists and locals».