“Golf is one of the pillars of Benahavís’s economy”
Benahavís can legitimately claim to be the Spanish municipality with the highest number of golf courses per capita. With a population of fewer than 6,000 people, this Costa del Sol municipality has 11 courses plus a superb golf school.
In order to help promote this sector, which generates a great deal of employment in the municipality, the town hall has just published a luxurious, trilingual (Spanish, English and Russian) golf guide which also includes tourist information about Benahavís and its accommodation amenities and restaurants. María José Guerrero, councillor for tourism, talks about the importance of golf to Benahavís.
- What does this sport mean to the municipality in a tourist context?
- Golf, above all else, is the welcome door for most of the tourists who visit Benahavís. People know about us at an international level thanks to our golf courses and golfers – professionals and amateurs – arrive from numerous countries to play on our courses. It represents, without a doubt, one of the pillars of our economy.
- When was the Benahavís Golf School set up and what benefits do residents have when using these sporting amenities?
- The Golf School has been open for more than four years, and it was set up precisely because, taking into the account the impact of golf on the Costa del Sol, and specifically Benahavís, the Town Hall needed to do everything possible to develop the game. It was a necessity, and the best way to boost golf, so key to our economy. Benahavís residents have free access to golf classes organised by the Town Hall. I could outline various reasons but the main one, the same as with other aspects, is that the government team has to offer all kinds of services to citizens. This is an important service because we live by golf and it was indispensable to facilitate access to classes. The formula for success is that it is free for our residents. That means we can guarantee that all those who want to can learn to play the game and, if good luck shines on us, perhaps within a few years we will have a local player in the major international tournaments. At the moment, some of our students are on that path.
- Another tourist attraction is Benahavís’s stunningly beautiful landscape. What particular areas would you highlight in this respect?
- Benahavís is practically all green throughout the municipality. It is a true natural treasure that offers visitors many options other than golf, and in an absolutely natural setting. Highly recommended is to check out the area known as Las Angosturas, on the side of the access road into Benahavís, and discover Charca de las Mozas, a basin in the Guadalmina River that is located in Las Angosturas and is visited by thousands of people every summer, for swimming, and at the same time is one of the most photographed places all year. We also have the Guadaiza and Guadalmansa Rivers, which add a touch of beauty to the whole area. People who want to trek through nature can enjoy many different tracks and trails, and – for the more adventurous – there are amazing areas for canyoning.
- Benahavís is known as the “Costa del Sol’s Dining Room”, due to its large number of restaurants offering a wide variety of gastronomic options. What does this mean for the village?
- Gastronomy is the other key economic pillar for Benahavís. Those who discover Benahavís return, and on a regular basis, to enjoy all the municipality’s restaurants. The menus are becoming more and more varied and extremely select, because clients demand quality and variety. Most of the restaurants in Benahavís have moved on from simply offering traditional dishes from the area to improving their menus considerably and expanding them to cater for other tastes. And all of that without losing our essence. We are just a few minutes from the coast and have the good fortune to be able to offer top-quality ingredients, both from the sea and the land.
- Your town hall is renowned for being one of the healthiest, economically, in Spain. How did you achieve this “miracle”?
- To have money, first you have to collect it, and then share it out. There are no tricks. You have to invest in the village and do it with sound reason. We’ve had many years of bonanza and have put something aside for the bad times. Today, like ants, we find that our “pantries” are well-stocked thanks to this economic management policy. There is no mystery or miracle other than saving.
- What initiatives does your department undertake to promote tourism in the municipality?
- The tourism and promotion department does, as its name indicates, operate everywhere. Tourism is very sensitive to the economic situation and also, at times, capricious, so promotion of the municipality is continuous and very wide ranging, as far as promotional avenues are concerned.
The Town Hall sponsors various sports people, both in golf and other sports, because they are moving around Spain and Europe, and it’s in our interests that our brand and name appear wherever there is a potential tourist or future visitor to our village. We also undertake campaigns on the radio and TV, choosing specific programmes, related to tourism and sport. We attend the main tourism fairs in Spain and Europe, and we don’t let any opportunity pass by in which the Benahavís name is right out front. However, like everything, it’s not a job you complete in one day, but rather by following an ongoing path and working bit by bit.