Thursday, October 27, 2011

Golf Travel Is Back

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.


  1. Yep, over in Ireland we're hearing the same thing - that business is growing again, although we're not enjoying quite such an impressive bounce back as some of the other countries... based on your figures at least. We're still below half the number that we were welcoming during the boom times.

    US golfers are certainly coming back (up 25% in 2011) and while they spend more than our other golfing visitors, and stay longer, they account for only 20 percent of all golf tourists. The big market for us is Great Britain which accounts for 66% of visitors.

    The positive news is that with Ireland's victories this year (Northern Ireland, that is), the country is firmly on the map for golfing visitors. At the same time our green fees have fallen significantly, especially across the mid tier (some top tier courses are still procrastinating on green fees, while others, e.g. Ballybunion, Druid's Glen are being smart), and our Tourism bodies are getting busy promoting the country's golf offering worldwide.

    Overall, the positive news that golfers are looking to travel again is excellent news for everyone in the industry. Long may it last, and let's hope that the 55 million figure can and will be surpassed.