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The number of extreme sport companies in the Lleida Pyrenees increases by 20%

The Pyrenees of Lleida are one of the main areas in Catalonia for adventure sports and the season officially kicks off this week, once the snow sports are about to end their season. Now begins the time for rafting, canyoning, horse-riding excursions, paragliding, mountain bike rides and hiking, which are among the most popular sports. In the last year, the number of companies working within these activities in the Province of Lleida has increased by 20%, reaching more than 200 enterprises. The sector has set the objective of reaching 625,000 services in 2013, similar to that of the last few years. However, they are concerned that the economic crisis and the VAT increase imposed by the Spanish Government might reduce the number of clients.

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25 March 2013 10:18 PM

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ACN / Marta Lluvich

Llavorsí (ACN).- The Pyrenees of Lleida are one of the main areas in Catalonia for adventure sports, whose season officially kicks off this week, once the snow sports are about to end their season. Now begins the time for rafting, canyoning, horse-riding excursions, paragliding, mountain bike rides and hiking, which are among the most popular sports. In the last year, the number of companies working within these activities in the Province of Lleida has increased by 20%, reaching more than 200 enterprises. The sector has set the objective of reaching 625,000 services in 2013, similar to that of the last few years. However, they are concerned that the economic crisis and the VAT increase imposed by the Spanish Government might reduce the number of clients. 2012 was already a bad year, with a 5%-10% decrease in visitors compared to the previous year\u2019s figures. The number of visitors from Catalonia and the rest of Spain, who represent by far the largest group of tourists, decreased, while that of foreigners increased. The sector hopes to continue to attract a larger number of foreign visitors to compensate for the expected drop in the domestic market. In fact, attracting a larger number of foreign people to contemplate the incredible landscapes of the Lleida Pyrenees, to visit its Romanesque churches and practice adventure sports is a strategic drive for the whole of Catalonia, since almost all international tourists go to Barcelona, the Costa Brava and the Costa Daurada.


Since 2009, the number of companies working in the field of extreme sports has risen from 142 to 206 this year. The figure represents an increase of 45% in the last four years. Most of them are based in Lleida\u2019s mountain counties, such as Pallars Sobirà, Val d\u2019Aran, Cerdanya, Alt Urgell, Alta Ribagorça, Pallars Jussà and Solsonès. The sector turnover represented \u20AC20.6 million in 2012, bringing an economic impact to the mountain areas of \u20AC62 million. According to the President of the Lleida Provincial Council, Joan Reñé, these companies employ some 2,200 people. Reñé emphasised the fact that the economic data clearly proves the sector is expanding.

The 206 companies offer a wide variety of water-, ground- and air-based activities. Those with the greatest demand are rafting, canyoning, horse-riding excursions, paragliding, mountain bike rides and hiking. Water sports continue to be the most popular, with 62% of the hired services specialising in this area. Rafting continues to be the most popular water-sport among visitors, followed by canyoning, riverboarding and kayaking. Rafting trips are offered at the Noguera Pallaresa, Noguera Ribagorçana and Segre rivers. Since the first company started to offer white-water rafting trips in the Lleida Pyrenees 27 years ago, more than 5 million rafting services have been offered, according to Florido Dolcet, President of the Pallars Sobirà Association of Adventure Sport Companies.

Regarding ground-based sports, with 36% of the demand, mountain bike trips continue to be the most popular activity. However, horse rides are becoming increasingly popular. Finally, looking at air sports, paragliding continues to be the preferred activity. However, despite air sports only representing 2% of the extreme sports demand, they represent a significant economic impact.

Some of this year\u2019s novelties are a boat excursion along the Canelles artificial lake or a moonlight kayak trip along the Mont-rebei Canyon, both of them part of the Noguera Ribagorçana river, located just between Catalonia and Aragon. There is also a guided excursion adapted for deaf people (with a sign language interpreter) throughout the Aigüestortes National Park: an impressive Alpine landscape, ranging from 1,600 to 3,000 metres high, hosting permanent glaciers and spotted with 200 lakes. The Pyrenees area is at a 90-120 min. drive from Barcelona.

The 2013 season offers very positive prospects regarding water sports as there will be excellent water conditions due to the large quantity of snow which fell during the winter. This will enable the rivers in the Pyrenees to carry much more water and for a longer period, which will increase the kilometres of river suitable for rafting (especially on the Noguera Pallaresa). The water reserves this season are triple those of last year and they surpass the average of the last five years by 65%.

In addition, the President of the Pallars Sobirà County Council, Llàtzer Sibís, explained that action has been taken to retrieve fallen trees and branches from the Noguera Pallaresa river as well as to prune the trees at the water margin. These precautions, which cost \u20AC60,000, were carried out along 15 kilometres of river, between the towns of Sort, Rialp and Llavorsí. This is the most popular spot for rafting and kayaking in the Pyrenees.

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  • A horse-riding excursion passing by Llavorsí (by M. Lluvich)

  • Rafting at the Noguera Pallaresa (by M. Lluvich)

  • Rafting is the most popular adventure sport at the Lleida Pyrenees (by M. Lluvich)

  • A horse-riding excursion passing by Llavorsí (by M. Lluvich)
  • Rafting at the Noguera Pallaresa (by M. Lluvich)
  • Rafting is the most popular adventure sport at the Lleida Pyrenees (by M. Lluvich)