The 17th International Golf Travel Market is taking place in Lake Como, Italy.
Peter Walton, Chief Executive of IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) said, golf tour operators remain the primary drivers of golf holidays worldwide, with golf resorts, courses and hotels reporting that at least 52% of their golf visitors were booked by golf tour operators, while research carried out in 2014 by Tom Cotter at the University of Ulster put the figure at 66% on the 47 tourist-friendly links courses on the island of Ireland.
Spain was the top-selling destination in 2013, followed by Portugal and Ireland. Scotland leapfrogged Turkey into fourth place, with the rest of the top 10 top sellers comprising the USA, Thailand, France and Morocco. Outside the top 10, Malaysia’s move up to 14th made it the second most important Asian golf destination for IAGTO operators after Thailand, while the Dominican Republic was the leading Caribbean destination, in 15th place, and Indonesia showing the greatest advance - moving up nine places to 20th.
The USA was the fastest growing destination in terms of the rate of growth of golf holiday sales in 2013 compared to 2012. It was followed by Portugal, the UAE, Scotland and Morocco, which moved up seven places to fifth, then Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Vietnam and Italy.
According to the findings from IAGTO’s second annual survey, 2014 marked the third year of consecutive growth in holiday sales by its golf tour operator members worldwide. Sales grew by 9.3% in 2012 and 11.1% in 2013, with year on year growth for the first quarter of 2014 up significantly at an average of 14.5% and the reports of strong performances in summer golf destinations and healthy advance bookings for the coming winter sun golf season confirming another good year for the golf tourism industry.
Repeat business was up as was referral business, indicators of both high satisfaction levels experienced by golf travellers and great value for money.
Walton also highlighted the growth in women golf travellers. In a survey of 350 IAGTO member golf resorts, courses and hotels, 56% said they had seen a significant growth over the past three years. That figure rose to 66% when the answers from golf courses were isolated, and 70% of suppliers in the winter sun destinations of Mediterranean Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and North Africa reported significant growth. Yet just 39-33% of suppliers in the USA and Northern Europe reported the same growth.