The Spanish surf industry sets the example

  • Sport

The Spanish surf industry sets the example

A surfer at the World Surf League in Mundaka, Vizcaya, Spain. Photo: EFE/Miguel Toña. (EFE)
A surfer at the World Surf League in Mundaka, Vizcaya, Spain. Photo: EFE/Miguel Toña. (EFE)

The surfing tourism industry is well-established in Spain, a country with some of the best beaches for this sport worldwide. Its growth over the past few years has revived several seaside resorts in the country, turning surfing into a key sector to local economies.

The sector’s model has drawn attention from other countries. Chile, Ireland, Equatorial Guinea and Morocco, among others, have sent delegations to study the Spanish surfing tourism industry and implement similar strategies back home.

The top Spanish beaches for surfers are La Machacona and Pantín in Galicia, Rodiles in Asturias, Somo and El Brusco in Cantabria, Mundaka and Zarautz in the Basque Country, and El Quemao and El Frontón in the Canary Islands.

Somo, in Ribamontán al Mar, set the example implementing the Surfing Tourism Industry Competitiveness Plan, back in 2010.

The town of Ribamontán al Mar is a global reference for surfers. Last year, it drew as many as 15,000 visitors (18% from other countries) and yielded 4.1 million euro.

Spain for surfers

Surfing has lots of fans in Spain. According to the Spanish Surfing Association (FESurf), the number of surfers has increased over the past few years, and so has the number of licences.

In 2010, there were about 230,000 surfers and 14,000 licences. In 2015, there were twice as many surfers (about 500,000) and licences (26,000). Similarly, the number of surf schools and camps rose from 200 to 450 in this period.

The Spanish surf industry relies on the existence of fabulous beaches boasting privileged locations, world-class infrastructure and schools for would-be surfers to take their first steps, and government support.

In line with the policies in our country, the European Union has launched Surfing Europe, a programme aimed at promoting surfing tourism with two participating destinations from Spain: San Sebastián and Ribamontán al Mar.