Marca Andorra Observatory: The “festival” of sport

Not all sectors have developed in the same way in the country since we decided to bet on economic diversification, but if any has stood out in recent years for its rapid development, it is sport.

Thus, a few months ago we focused on sport as a distinctive value ( from the perspective of the ecosystem that Andorra dedicates to high performance and its consolidation, especially if it continues to be fully developed as it deserves, despite the complexity it entails. Especially because the construction of new infrastructure is expensive and takes time. Even so, significant progress has been made, and this fact allows us to be moderately optimistic about the future.

This time, however, we want to focus on the most visible manifestation of sport: sporting events. In recent weeks we have been able to witness the summer events of the Andorra Multiesport Festival, organized by The Ironman Group, which were held between June 22 and July 9, 2023, and which consisted of the Trail 100 Andorra by UTMB®, specifically mountain races with four distances for athletes of all levels; the IRONMAN 70.3 Andorra, the first distance triathlon to be held in the Principality; the Haute Route Pyrénées, a road cycling race with 3 stages, one of which is in our home country; and finally the Andorra Epic Pyrénées, an MTB competition for couples with 4 stages, all of them with great participation and audience success. In fact, we can be proud that the Andorra Multiesport Festival has become a unique sporting event that does not exist anywhere else in Europe.

We have been hearing about this business group specializing in triathlon sports, The Ironman Group, for some time now, but do we really know its true dimension and the importance that has been set in Andorra to develop an experience of this level? It started as a sports competition organizer with a race in Hawaii in 1978, and today it organizes almost 300 events in more than 50 countries worldwide, with an enterprise value of about 750 million USD and an annual turnover of more than 50 million USD, with more than one million participating athletes. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the strategic importance of Spain for this company, which means that almost 45% of the turnover in Europe is generated in the neighboring country, and at the same time it represents almost 20% of the global turnover. That is why it is not surprising that the headquarters in Europe have been in Spain since 2014, and that in retrospect, the countries with the most impact are, in addition to Spain, Italy, Portugal and Andorra, which, thanks to its strategic location, managed to join the program of events in the year of the pandemic. In just 3 years it has gone from 1,800 participants and around 6,000 companions, with an economic impact of 3.2 million Euros, to 4,000 participants and around 9,000 companions, with an economic impact of 10 million Euros in 2023, what shows how this matter is consolidating in the Principality and how it has a positive influence on the 104 Andorran companies that have participated in some way in the organization of the latest action. For this reason, I think it more than compensates for the approximately one and a half million euros that it costs us to hold this event in Andorra every year.

The Ironman Group is much more than an organization company. I invite you to visit their website where we will find such differentiating aspects as the offer to interested athletes of one of the most important races simulation programs in the world, or the option to hire the services of the best certified trainers in triathlon, or the best experts in nutrition, apart from other multiple options developed through its foundation, with a special interest in equality policies. We are therefore facing a real triathlon hub at world level, and the most important thing is that Andorra is gaining a prominent place there. It is therefore not surprising that our authorities ensure that these actions will be improved in what it needs to be improved and that it would be considered to extend for as long as possible the contract that, for the moment, ends in 2024.

If to these competitions of the Multisport Festival (not forgetting the winter event in La Rabassa) we add endurance competitions such as the Andorra Spartan Race or the Andorra Olimpus Race, or the consolidated Pal Arinsal MTB World Cup, which between August 22 and 27 will return for the ninth time with the participation of around 700 runners from 40 countries and for which around 60,000 spectators and 6 million returns are expected, we can say without fear of being wrong –  we know that Andorra is in a privileged position in the field of organization of mountain sports events. In addition to the already consolidated position in actions related to winter sports.

However, the calendar and the territory have its limits, there will come a day, not long time away, when we reach the limit in the organizational potential, and it may be necessary to consider, as The Ironman Group has already done, what more can be done for professional and amateurs athletes from around the world committed to the cause of sport and specifically, what else can Andorra contribute. And here we go back to what we were talking about at the beginning. We have said that more than a million athletes from all around the world need to prepare for the events organized by the aforementioned American group and, like them, countless other athletes who participate in other disciplines. Most of them are willing to invest money in their physical preparation, and what does Andorra have to offer in this regard? Technical preparation and training through the specialization of high performance at height. There is still a lot of work to be done in this regard, but we do not doubt for a moment that we can be attractive to a significant group of athletes who choose Andorra to train, just as this year’s winners of the Ironman 70.3 have done and so many others.

And there is still more, in fact much more than what has been mentioned, which are just few marks of Andorra’s competitive advantage in high-altitude or mountain sports. I leave the exciting world of big data and artificial intelligence applied to the practice of sport and sports medicine for another article, but it must be clear to everyone that the Marca Andorra has greatly strengthened in recent years thanks to the development of sport but that the most important things are yet to come, because the consolidation of the sports industry contemplates a multiplicity of aspects still to be discovered and that if we are skilled they can bring us a lot of prosperity next years.

By Pere Augé, CEO and Founding Partner of Augé Holding Group


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