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Golf Holiday Demand ‘Will Keep Rising’

July 10, 2017 Golf Tourism No Comments Email Email

Miami, United States: Demand for golf travel across the globe is expected to grow for the foreseeable future, but at a slower pace than in recent years, due in part to limits on supply in popular golf destinations.

That was the key message from the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) as the record-breaking ninth annual North America Golf Tourism Convention (NAC) took place at Trump National Doral Miami.

During his opening address at the three-day event, Peter Walton, IAGTO’s Chief Executive, made three projections for 2017-2020. He forecast that:

  • Demand for golf travel will continue to rise
  • Golf tour operators will, by and large, maintain their market share*
  • Golf tour operator sales will continue to grow year-on-year but at a reduced rate of growth of between 5% and 7%

“2017 will mark the sixth year of consecutive growth for golf tour operator sales worldwide with forward bookings for this year up 7.1% year-on-year when measured in January, and 7.9% in April,” Walton predicted. “Outbound markets performing particularly well and above the global average include India, China, Korea, Asia in general, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, with European markets overall just above par.

“Our operator members saw their business increase by an average of 7.5% in 2016 which, although still very strong, is a couple of points below the average of the previous four years (9.8%).”

However, Walton cautioned: “Limits to supply in popular golf destinations are likely to have the effect of reining in the rate of growth of golf vacation sales, to, we estimate, between 5% and 7% per year.”

Focusing on American golf destinations, Walton noted that despite available capacity of, on average, over 19% at golf courses in the USA open and eager to receive international golf visitors, the country was not currently in the front line of reaping the benefits of the global growth in golf travel.

Growth in sales and forward bookings for golf visitors in 2017 reported by golf resorts, golf courses and hotels in the USA were currently running at less than half the global average.

Carrie Ruiz, Trump National Doral Director of Golf and Travel Industry Sales, was delighted at the success of NAC 2017. She said: “The event has exceeded my expectations. It’s fantastic. I am thrilled with the response from the attending buyers and suppliers.

“We hosted the inaugural NAC event in 2009 and we have gone through such dramatic changes since then, spending US$250 million on a complete renovation over three full years from early 2013. We wanted every one of the tour operators to have a personal experience, not only of the bricks and mortar but of the service levels as well. And the feedback we are getting from them is that this is a brand new, very positive experience. They can sell the property so much better now that they have been here.”

IAGTO’s ninth annual North America Convention attracted 423 delegates from 36 countries, representing a record number of both buyers and suppliers. “This was by far the strongest NAC that we have staged to date, and the business conducted here at the event should help to drive golf tourism to the USA in far greater numbers, helping the country’s many and varied golf destinations to catch up with their competitors,” Walton said.

An increase in participation from Asian golf tour operators increased the number of buyer delegates to 153, who were able to meet with 161 different golf travel suppliers from across the Americas and the Caribbean to prepare their golf programmes for the coming season.

*IAGTO reported in 2015 that golf tour operators control approximately 52% of international golf vacation sales globally (48% booked direct).

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