Adventure sports sector to lose 50% of annual turnover this spring

Health crisis has hit firms in Catalan Pyrenees hard, threatening 2,000 jobs and making recovering winter investment difficult

The Noguera Pallaresa river alongside some adventure sports company buildings (by Marta Lluvich)
The Noguera Pallaresa river alongside some adventure sports company buildings (by Marta Lluvich) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 6, 2020 12:08 PM

Normally at this time of year, adventure sports firms in the Catalan Pyrenees would be preparing for a new season of rafting, canyoning, and rock climbing, among other extreme outdoor experiences, but the coronavirus crisis has put a stop to the new season.

With spring underway, the Easter holidays, the May 1 bank holiday, and school outings would usually account for half of the sector's annual turnover, according to the association of adventure sports companies in the Pallars Sobirà region.

However, this spring, with the state of alarm obliging the public to remain at home while the covid-19 crisis lasts, no one will be donning helmets or life jackets and riding rapids or throwing themselves off bridges on the end of an elasticated rope.

While the health crisis has negatively affected most business sectors, the adventure sports industry, which by definition involves groups of people out together in the open air, has been hit hard, in fact, it hasn't even been able to get underway.

Rafting activities have been growing each year

In Catalonia's western region of Lleida, adventure sports is big business and one that is growing. In 2018, for example, 187,360 rafting activities took place in the Lleida Pyrenees, 10% more than the previous year, with demand growing up to 5% last year.

The adventure sports industry is also key in terms of job creation. The number of people - whether full-time, part-time or self-employed - working in the sector has grown every year in the past few years and now stands at around 2,000.

What's more, the head of the sector's association in Pallars Sobirà, Florido Dolcet, says that adventure sports firms spent the winter months investing in new material and infrastructure in the expectation of recovering that investment in the 2020 season.

Sector association calls for sales tax reduction

In order to help the industry get over the health crisis once the new season finally gets underway, Dolcet's association is calling on the state authorities to provide "aid and protection policies," such as reducing sales tax on activities from 21% to 10%.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Dolcet remains optimistic that the sector can survive, albeit with a "slow recovery," and says that the industry needs to come up with promotion strategies to attract local tourists once the crisis is over and the season begins.