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2014 to Crown Three Years of Consecutive Growth for Australian and global golf tourism, predicts IAGTO

February 4, 2014 Golf Tourism No Comments Email Email

565757IAGTO’s ground breaking global golf travel survey published last year showed that golf tourism grew by an average of 9.3% in 2012.

According to the global golf tourism industry organisation, golf travel grew strongly once again last year and all the indications are that this trend will continue in 2014, which will then mark three years of consecutive growth.

IAGTO member Australian golf tour operators sending golfers on holiday to other countries reported that 2013 was their strongest year for a long time and they are forecasting that the demand for overseas golf holidays will continue to grow this year. These same operators report that the newer Asian destinations such as the Danang Golf Coast in Vietnam and Siem Reap in Cambodia as well as China’s Hainan Island could prove popular in 2014.

As an outbound golf tourism market, New Zealand did not perform as strongly in 2013 as Australia with many golfers opting for holidays closer to home, eschewing long haul golf trips to the USA and Europe. However, that could be set to change this year.

The strength of the Australian dollar, whilst being a boon to the country’s position as an outbound market, has limited its growth as a golf destination in the past 12 months. When polled last year, IAGTO’s member golf tour operators, who are responsible for over 85% of all golf holiday packages sold worldwide, ranked New Zealand two places above Australia in terms of growth as a golf destinations and six places above Australia in terms of importance to their outbound golf holiday business.

Speaking from Mexico’s premier golf destination of Los Cabos, IAGTO Chief Executive, Peter Walton, said today: “The vast majority of our 2,140 member golf resorts, golf courses, hotels and golf tour operators in 97 countries reported further growth in 2013 on the back of a strong 2012. Destinations as diverse as Spain, South Africa, Scotland, the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Ireland, Abu Dhabi, Mexico, Portugal, Turkey and Thailand have all reported year on year growth. Our 520 golf tour operators in 62 countries are a good barometer for the coming 12 months and many have indicated that forward bookings for the first quarter of 2014 are looking healthy.”

Walton added: “In very general terms, a long warm summer gets golfers out onto their local courses more often, lowering handicaps and increasing expectations, while a cold and unpleasant winter focuses their minds on getting the golf travel bag out and heading to warmer, greener climes. So basically, a long warm summer followed by a cold and miserable winter should be good for the golf travel business!”

IAGTO will publish its 2014 Annual Golf Tourism Report (available to IAGTO members next month) at the HSBC Golf Business Forum in April.

Commenting on the impact of golf tourism on golf course development, Walton said: “It was interesting to learn in the National Golf Foundation’s excellent and ongoing study* of golf courses under development that approximately two-thirds of the 1,000 or so golf course projects outside of the USA in all phases (including under construction, in planning, in preliminary planning or on hold) are considered to be tourism related (resorts with golf courses, or real estate developments with golf courses that have a resort component).

“This demonstrates clearly the importance of a strong and sustainable golf tourism sector to the wider golf business community,” Walton added.

The NGF report cites China’s Hainan Island as an example of one of the golf travel destinations that is enjoying golf course growth and it is to Haikou that IAGTO will be taking its 3rd Asia Golf Tourism Convention from 24-27 March this year.

“Asia continues to be a driving force both as an outbound market of golf travellers and an inbound market of golf destinations. We can report today that the number of golf tour operator buyers registered for this year’s AGTC has already exceeded the total for last year’s successful event,” said Walton.

“With more than two months to go, 152 buyers from 35 countries, all selling golf destinations in the Asia Pacific, have signed up to attend, which will undoubtedly make this year’s AGTC the most important international golf tourism event in the region with the total number of delegates expected to exceed 500.”

Further linking golf tourism to golf development, Xie Jing, Vice Mayor of Hainan’s capital, Haikou City, said on the announcement of the venue last year: “It is a great honour that IAGTO has decided to stage the 2014 Asian Golf Tourism Convention in Mission Hills Haikou. This will have an enormous impact on Hainan’s strategy to develop as an international tourism Island and a world class golfing destination.”

*Tracking Golf’s Global Expansion – a project by the National Golf Foundation (www.ngf.org) with the support of the R&A. 

** Mission Hills Hainan was voted IAGTO Golf Resort of the Year for Asia & Australasia for 2012 by IAGTO golf tour operators and is accredited as the World’s Largest Spa and Volcanic Spring Resort by Guinness World Records, among other accolades.

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