Organisers and attendees thrilled with second annual showcase of golf in Scotland
By Chris Johnston
Scotland's status as the world’s leading golf destination was reinforced in emphatic fashion with the staging of the second annual Scottish Golf Tourism Week.
A collaborative effort between PSP Media, VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, the unique event saw 70 golf tour operators from 39 different countries around the world descend on the ‘Home of Golf’ for a week of familiarisation trips and meetings, all designed to showcase the very best of Scottish golf.
Golf business professionals from Canada, China, Russia and India, as well as the USA, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany, visited some of the country’s leading courses and facilities, whilst Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire played host to more than 3,500 business-to-business appointments attended by a cross-section of Scotland’s diverse golf industry, from the so-called ‘trophy’ courses to small, independently-run hotels.
It is expected that new partnerships fostered by the event will help to drive tens of thousands more golfers to Scotland and help meet the objectives laid out in the national golf tourism strategy ‘Driving Forward Together’. Those aims include growing the golf tourism industry’s value to the national economy to £300m by 2020.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, explained: “Scotland is known around the world as the ‘Home of Golf’ and there is no doubt it is a key element of our unique tourism offering.
“Visiting golfers make a huge contribution to Scotland’s economy and for every £1 spent on green fees, £5 is spent elsewhere across our visitor economy in shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.”
Tom Lovering of PSP Media Group added: “We have golf courses that are known around the world - St Andrews, Kingsbarns, Turnberry and the like - but, underneath that level, we have a whole host of fantastic courses that do not get the exposure that they need.
“Scottish Golf Tourism Week caters for all of that so tour operators who don’t know places like Murrayshall or Crail get to speak to those people. Every tier of the Scottish golf industry is represented. It wouldn’t go ahead otherwise.”
This year’s event proved to be immensely successful, with international tour operators given the opportunity to experience first-hand what Scottish golf has to offer. Highlights included:
• A helicopter tour of the Highlands, taking in the likes of Royal Dornoch and Skibo Castle;
• A nearest-the-pin competition on the 18th hole of the 2018 Open host course, Carnoustie;
• The opportunity to sample golf the way it was originally played at the UK’s only hickory course, Kingarrock.
Lovering added: “We tried to give our attendees the chance to sample as much of makes golf in Scotland so special and unique as possible. For me, one of the highlights was seeing tour operators from 15 different countries taking ‘selfies’ on the Swilcan Bridge in St Andrews. It is easy to forget just how essential an experience that is for anybody with a passion for the game.
“Seeing a huge Saltire fluttering in the breeze next to the Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry with meetings and business being done in the resort’s beautiful new ballroom just a couple of hundred yards away is another great memory.
“I firmly believe that nowhere in the world can match Scotland when it comes to golf. We have the history, the courses and the facilities but, more than that, we have a deep-rooted passion for the game. It is part of the fabric of the country. Hopefully, Scottish Golf Tourism Week will help to spread that passion further and wider than ever before.”
The immediate response from attendees – both Scottish golf businesses and visiting tour operators – has been overwhelmingly positive.
Sharon McDonald, the golf secretary of The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle, described the week as ‘fantastic’, adding: “It’s never easy to put together an event of this size but everything was so well organised. It all went really well.”
Steven Moran, the managing secretary of Blairgowrie Golf Club, was equally impressed. “It was our pleasure to host a familiarisation trip,” he said. “It was hugely successful for us and it’s now up to us to follow up accordingly and drive some business inland towards Blairgowrie.”
Douglas Zuill, the club manager and secrtary of Western Gailes, added: “I thought the event was excellent and I found it to be very worthwhile.”