Salva Lucas: “Golf provides a seasonal breakdown for the benefit of tourism”

Today Sunday 31 January, journalist of El Mundo Pedro Nuño de la Rosa interviewed our President Salvador Lucas in a talk, and dissected golf tourism on the Costa Blanca. We leave the interview and the original by clicking here.

Why do people still believe that golf remains a sport of gentlemen, upper-middle class if you prefer to say?

Well, those who work in this field know that this is not so. Golf in Spain has early beginnings linked with the upper classes and the aristocracy, but this also happened with tennis and other sports that gradually with the passage of time have been become popular. In the case of golf this is a process that has already come a long way. Spain has nearly 300,000 golfers, and I say that not everyone will be an aristocratic or upper class person.

You can´t tell me that travelling some kilometers, buying a green free and having a good set of golf clubs is not something expensive for many pockets?

Well, that depends on where you want to play and the material you want to have. You can have complete sets of clubs, bag and cart for less than 300 euros; but hey, it’s like in all sports, one can have a paddle bat or tennis racquet for 30 or 300€. With regard to courses and locations, it is like choosing a restaurant, there are a variety of fields and prices around the country.

With 17 golf courses, 9 hotels, 4 sponsors and several international tour operators to credit of our province, at what level would this put you in the importance of the Spanish region?

The Costa Blanca offers a varied portfolio of golf courses and excellent facilities, as well as a climate that makes our province an ideal place to practice golf all year round. This makes it increasingly appealing for international tour operators to choose our courses and resort spas and offer their customers a quality experience. I think the absence of further promotion, which must never cease, the brand Costa Blanca is situated on 70% of supply for tour operators across Europe in offerings to their clients. We still have much to do.

What percentage of foreigners coming to Alicante is for the primary purpose of playing golf?

That’s a great question, and to answer categorically and accurately we are conducting a study of the economic impact of our industry within the province. On a personal level, the three golf courses that I run, I can say that 30% of our customers are of British origin, another 30% of Nordic countries and the rest from other countries and Spain.

To what extent implied by the Tourist Board of the Costa Blanca is to Alicante golf?

Fortunately, is welcome, after more than a decade of cooperation from the Board with golf, have been able to observe, appreciate and understand that our industry offers among many other contributions one seasonality of tourism, because unlike tourism sun and beach, our tourists visiting the province from September to April. These are peak months of occupation in our courses, which influences the growth of passengers arriving at the airport of Alicante and the increase in flights and routes from countries of origin. The Board understands that our industry is a pillar that brings great benefits to the Alicante society and support us in the international promotion of our destination.

With the amount of money generated by the world of golf in Valencia, do you feel sufficiently supported by regional and municipal governments on an economic level?

It is true that in the past we have noticed that our industry was not sufficiently valued and unfairly treated, but our obligation and our mission is to open the eyes of society and institutions to see and appreciate the reality of our industry and our sport .

You run a 5-star hotel, La Finca Golf & Spa. Can you survive a hotel of this category and located in a town known for tourism as little as Algorfa, only with golfing cliental?

Currently this is not possible, that is why we offer a facility equipped to accommodate tourists and clients with other needs apart from the golfing.

In the biggest trade show in the world dedicated to golf, the event IGTM, can we be more competitive?

Undoubtedly. IGTM is the professional tour event operation the world’s largest golf. In that event, the destinations are promoted to become more competitive and try to attract the most attention from international tour operators. Costa Blanca Our brand has been a co-sponsor of the latest edition of IGTM and brand is becoming more powerful, but unlike Costa del Sol, the Canary Islands, Portugal, Turkey … we still have much to do.

Is it so difficult to get Alicante world championship golf events such as already played at Valderrama?

The big tournaments like the Ryder Cup which was played at Valderrama require much effort, especially economic, and are very difficult goals. Ahead of major tournaments on the European circuit, these competitions are viable but require financial and institutional support, as it involves projecting our destiny in an international showcase in which would come to millions of fans around the world.

“Los Manchegos” accuse us of wasting water on golf courses, and yet you claim to be leaders in their recycling.

This is one of the most controversial issues generated, but this controversy is fueled by ignorance. A golf course is irrigated with water not intended for human consumption, in any of the cases. The golf courses are irrigated with wastewater and refined. We also have the law regulating the golf courses of Valencia, Spain more restrictive. To this we add regulating the use of pesticides, which can only be used against agricultural uses, and that makes a golf course is a stronghold of the water and energy savings. Allegations of waste water are just wanting an easy source of information.

If there is no water, no golf courses, but neither orchards where do we throw?

Here I’m going to let declare a golf course never destroys any environment, on the contrary, it benefits. It provides landscape quality, environmental quality and develops fauna. If there are no gardens or crops and golf courses, we would be before a landscape that frankly I’d rather not think about.

Why in the Spanish courses do you hardly see a caddy? It can be a good way to pay for their studies accompanying and assisting players…

Caddie figure is almost extinct in Europe when it comes to amateur level concerns. Professional players always used to use local caddies, which in professional circles are indeed a professionalized figure a way to make a living and pay, a job like any other.

Is there much self standing in golf?

Yes, yes, as in any field of life. Golf has its own postures, its own fashion, but all very healthy and very athletic.

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