American tour operator ‘fielding a lot of requests’ from customers keen to book ‘dream golf trip’
By Michael McEwan
The United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union could benefit the country’s golf clubs, according to one leading tour operator.
Golfpac Travel, which is headquartered in Florida, has reported an increased interest in golf trips to the UK from its customer base following the collapse of the pound in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum result.
As this edition of English Club Golfer went to print, the UK currency had plummeted to a 31-year low, dropping more than 20 cents on the American dollar. This, in turn, has made visiting the country a more affordable - and, according to Golfpac Travel, a more appealing - proposition than it has been in quite some time.
“The Brexit decision certainly provides a great opportunity for US travellers to finally book that dream golf trip,” said Golfpac manager Michael McHenry told GolfBusinessNews.com. “With the pound/dollar exchange at a 30-plus year low, there has never been a better time to travel to the UK. Golfers are starting to take advantage of the US dollar strength that we have not seen in decades.”
McHenry added: “I am fielding a lot of requests from not only groups looking to travel next year but also from current customers wanting to know how this will affect their upcoming travel.
“They want to know how to take advantage of the current drop in the pound in as much as exchanging dollars well in advance of their upcoming travel. Everything they spend money on during their trip will naturally be cheaper than it was.”
Golfpac’s optimism over the potential benefits for British golf over the decision to leave the European Union is in stark contrast to the caution sounded by the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), which warned that the decision could result in a ‘reduction in greenkeeping budgets’.
The organisation’s CEO Jim Croxton said that the UK golf industry is ‘still in a delicate position on the back of the last economic downturn’.
“Following the result of the referendum, we are set to enter another uncertain period for the economy,” he added. “The decision to leave the EU will have an impact on people’s pockets and, within the golf industry, this can manifest itself in a reduction in greenkeeping budgets. We will redouble our efforts to ensure we support our members throughout this period and work closely with the rest of the golf industry to keep the sport as buoyant as possible.”
Meanwhile, the European Tour moved quickly to reassure golf fans that the outcome of the EU referendum will have no implications for the Ryder Cup. Some had worried that the decision to leave would preclude golfers from the UK - such as Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter - from representing Europe in the biennial match. Others had questioned whether or not the team could still be represented by the blue and gold EU flag. However, the tour wasted no time in allaying those concerns.
“The criteria for being European in Ryder Cup terms is a geographical one (ie from countries who make up the continent of Europe) not a political or economic one (ie countries who make up the EU),” said a tour spokesperson. “Therefore, the result of the UK referendum has no bearing in Ryder Cup qualification terms.
“In terms of the flag flown to represent the European Ryder Cup team, we consider that the blue and gold flag of Europe represents the continent of Europe and, as a broad symbol of Europe as a whole, we therefore plan to continue to use it.”
The tour is now expected to assess the other potential implications of the vote but it appears unlikely that it will have any impact on the playing schedule.
“Like all global companies whose main headquarters are in the UK, we are now in the process of assessing the implications for our business following the result of the referendum vote on June 23,” said the spokesperson.
“In terms of tournaments appearing on the European Tour schedule, including those in the UK, we do not believe that the result will have any impact.
“The United Kingdom remains a geographical part of Europe, even though it will no longer be part of the political or economic structure of the European Union.”