IAGTO’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.

Speaking from Mexico’s premier golf destination of Los Cabos, IAGTO Chief Executive, Peter Walton, said: “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 HainanIsland 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, HaikouCity, 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 tourismIsland and a world class golfing destination.”


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