"Mijas is a magnificent golf destination“

Mijas is much more than a picturesque “white village” perched on the side of a mountain in the heart of the Costa del Sol. Its tourist amenities are extensive and varied, but above all it has golf – plenty of golf. Recently, the University of Málaga (UMA) drew up a strategic marketing plan to revive and promote golf tourism in the municipality.

The tourism department, coordinated by José Carlos Martín Torres, wants to turn this plan into a working tool that involves the entire sector. A graduate in law and civil engineering, born in Ceuta and a resident of Mijas since he was four years old, Martín Torres talks here about golf’s importance to Mijas...

- Mijas has the second highest number of golf courses of any municipality in Spain...

Yes, we have 12 in total and only Marbella, which has 16, surpasses us – if I'm not mistaken. However, we are the ones that have more space dedicated to golf courses; we have more surface area dedicated to the sport.

- Why more surface area?

Because our courses are larger in general: the three at La Cala Resort, the two at Mijas Golf, Santana and some others exceed the usual standard surface area of an 18-hole golf course.

This is from data that the UMA has provided us with, reflected in its marketing plan, which really surprised us because we were not aware of these figures, or at least we did not have them in our internal records. This is somewhat incidental but it is still significant.

- Do you consider golf a key tourism segment for Mijas?

Golf has always been an important part of tourism in Mijas, one of the three basic pillars of our amenities and attractions, together with "sun and beach" and the distinctive characteristic of being an "Andalucian white village".

I also believe that golf has a great advantage over other tourist segments because, although it can be played all year round, its high season coincides with the low season of "sun and beach". We have always sought to break the mould of seasonality and this is accommodated by golf tourism. It is what makes Mijas "open" all year round.

- Correct us if we’re wrong, but we have the feeling that, at least until now, the local town hall had not really paid due attention to golf tourism...

Not exactly, but it is true that until now we felt that the golf segment essentially sold itself. Mijas town hall has always collaborated as much as possible but without being involved in great depth. Since we have had access to the strategic tourism plan, which identifies golf as a segment that needs to be promoted, we have become much more involved.

We want to become a benchmark in the world of golf so that, when people talk about Mijas, it is also about our 12 courses, and the extensive and varied options that they represent.

- Tell us about the plan you have developed with the UMA...

The marketing plan is fundamentally about establishing a roadmap. The strategic tourism plan was a success because it also established several objectives – a protected roadmap, let's say – to avoid the potential fluctuations in politics, so that any new councillor, or different ruling local government, would not change its criteria every five minutes. This greatly damages the continuity of an instrument that we should all respect, be it a politician of the left, centre or right.

The marketing plan reproduces that same premise: it aims to be an instrument that indicates an objective and a path that all sectors involved in golf are going to follow, because the plan aims to further enhance and consolidate the positioning of this key segment for our tourism.

- In short, you intend to create and promote a “new” brand that is “Mijas – Golf Destination”…

Among our objectives is that Mijas be clearly identified as a specific golf destination within a wider sphere such as the Costa del Sol or Andalucía. This doesn’t mean we won’t work hand in hand with them – on the contrary. But we do intend to be a recognised destination and to be distinguished from the rest.

- Do you already have concrete initiatives planned to promote golf tourism in Mijas?

Once we have the marketing plan, which we have passed on to the entire sector for their information, albeit with the current handicap of being in the midst of a pandemic, we are going to begin meetings with those involved to develop the roadmap that I mentioned earlier.

In the short term we want to develop a public-private collaboration, which is essential to promote this activity. Another important point, also part of the plan, is to publicise our golf amenities within the municipality itself, because sometimes people might have a preconceived notion that is not the actual reality.

We have to make sure that everyone in Mijas knows that we have a first-class golf product. This is important because we have a very large population of foreign residents who represent a large niche of golfing clients and who can be our “influencers” in their countries and local surroundings. We also want to create a marketing platform and, of course, study formulas that help break the seasonality of golf itself.

- Does Mijas still have the capacity for more golf courses?

Yes, certainly, there is room for more courses. In fact, we would like to see three or four more developed...

- Is there any specific project underway?

There are some in different phases. I know of one in particular that is currently being processed, but with COVID everything is delayed. Environmental and other requirements for building a golf course are also more stringent than before.