English Golf Courses

REPORT Golf tourism on the up and outlook for future is positive

IAGTO boss Peter Walton reveals figures that show the number of golfers booking trips abroad has increased whilst numbers for the first six months of 2015 are encouraging.

INTERNATIONAL golf tourism continues to grow strongly and will notch up its fourth successive year of growth in 2015, IAGTO chief executive Peter Walton revealed as the 18th International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) got under way in Tenerife.

Welcoming the 1,400 delegates in his keynote opening address at the island’s Magma Convention Centre, Walton said that figures supplied by both golf tour operators and supplier members showed that the number of golfers travelling to play had increased every year since IAGTO launched its annual golf tourism survey three years ago.

Data collection was stepped up for 2015 with the introduction of quarterly golf tourism surveys and core data gathered from more than 700 operators and suppliers in the first two quarters of this year underlined the upward trend for golf tourism.

Golf tour operators reported that the number of golfers they carried between January and March was up by 8% and rose 5% between April and June, both compared with the same period of 2014. That surge was mirrored among IAGTO golf courses and hotels, which saw golf visitor arrivals grow by an average of 7.2% for the first six months of 2015.

The outlook is positive, too. As of the beginning of July, golf tour operators reported that forward bookings were up 6.7% year on year, while golf courses and hotels were seeing an increase in forward bookings of 4.6%.

“Globally, IAGTO golf tour operator sales grew by 9.3% in 2012, 11.1% in 2013 and by 8.9% in 2014. We can now confidently assert that 2015 will be the fourth year of consecutive growth,” said Walton, left, during his address.

Walton announced that IAGTO would be launching a new service in January 2016 that would enable any of its member golf destinations to track the number of rounds played month-by-month, having helped numerous destinations track international visitor numbers and after pooling the knowledge and experience gained from those individual projects.

Delegates were told about the work IAGTO has been undertaking to help golf destinations following the unveiling of the global golf tourism organisation’s Blueprint for the implementation of Integrated Golf Tourism Strategies at IGTM 2014 in Lake Como, Italy.

Several destinations had implemented strategies in full or in part based on IAGTO recommendations, Walton added that the biggest project was the launch of a nationwide drive in the United States in conjunction with Brand USA to collect essential golf tourism data from golf courses attracting international golfing visitors.

Within three months of its launch, 60 state and regional tourist boards had signed up to the project and more than 250 courses have already submitted comprehensive data. The results will be published at IAGTO’s 8th North America Golf Tourism Convention, which is being staged at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina in June.

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