Just when you thought the last shovels of dirt were being thrown on the golf travel industry, along comes some great news about international golf tourism.
In a recent speech addressing the members of Thailand’s Golf In A Kingdom destination marketing program, Peter Walton, chief executive of the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators (IAGTO), said golf is one of the few international tourism sectors continuing to grow despite global economic uncertainty.
He said international golf tourism was expected to exceed 50 million travelers in 2011, and perhaps reach 55 million, which is equivalent to the level in 2007 before the global financial crisis.
“Golf tourism bounces back more quickly than other sectors,” he added. “In established markets, one in three golfers plan to travel in the next 12 months. That is a lot more than in other sectors like skiing. We also know that golfers spend 120 percent more per person per day when staying in a resort than other travelers.”
Regarding U.S. golf travel, Walton cited that while only 12 percent of the U.S. population plays golf, golfers were responsible for 27 percent of U.S. travel expenditures.
Walton highlighted Spain, the U.S. and Thailand as currently three popular international golf destinations, with Turkey and Portugal among countries that are rapidly increasing golf tourism sectors.
The IAGTO, with 1700 members in 94 countries, is a powerful voice in the golf travel industry. It claims that its members are responsible for 80 percent of golf packages sold worldwide.