Scottish golf clubs are marketing to Chinese tourists

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim April 23, 2015 12:19

Scottish golf clubs are marketing themselves to Chinese tourists in a bid to secure a larger chunk of their huge spending power.

A poll of millionaires in China found that golf is their most popular sport and travelling their favourite leisure activity.

This is on top of a survey from VisitScotland that found that the average Chinese tourist spends £770 on a holiday to Scotland, more than tourists from any other nation, including £70 more than the average American tourist.

However, until recently, it has been more expensive and cumbersome for Chinese tourists to visit the UK than most other European countries because Britain is not part of the European Union’s Schengen agreement. This has meant that Chinese tourists can visit 26 countries in Europe via the one Schengen visa, yet if they want to visit Britain they have to fill out a separate application form. This is partly why France, for example, typically receives about ten times as many visitors from China than the UK, even though surveys in China have found more interest in visiting the UK than France.

china golfer vincent wong

Image by Vincent Wong

Now, though, a simplified tourist visa has made it easier for Chinese tourists to visit Britain.

VisitScotland figures show that China has become one of Scotland’s emerging international markets. In 2013 visitors from the country made 34,000 visits to Scotland, spending a total of £34 million.

But tourist operators in the Highlands think far more can be attracted, not least those who are interested in visiting the national home of golf.

A delegation from Highland Golf Links (HGL) has made a pitch at the China Golf Show in Beijing.

Neil Hampton, general manager of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, and Stephen Laurie, sales manager at the four-star Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness, are represented HGL.

The trip was coordinated by Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International.

Mr Hampton said: “Golf has grown rapidly in China and so we are looking to put ourselves in front of the decision makers for those that wish to explore the game outwith their boundaries.

“The volume of people in China means that even the smallest percentage increase in tourism turns into a very large number visiting Scotland. This is an ideal opportunity for us to show that Scotland is the home of golf and the Highlands in particular have a lot to offer.”

China has one million registered golfers. Highland Golf Links includes Castle Stuart Golf Links, which will host the Scottish Open for the fourth time in six years in 2016; Royal Dornoch Golf Club, which is consistently in the Top 10 list of the world’s best golf courses; and The Nairn Golf Club, previous host of the Walker Cup and Curtis Cup and is home to the Home Internationals tournament in 2016.

The partnership also includes the Kingsmills Hotel and Culloden House Hotel, Inverness; the Royal Golf Hotel, at Royal Dornoch; and the Golf View Hotel and Spa in Nairn. The group promotes ‘Play and Stay’ packages in the Highlands to encourage golf tourism.

Fraser Cromarty, CEO of the Nairn Golf Club, is chairman of HGL. He said: “The Highlands has a lot to offer visitors and the China Golf Show is the perfect event to showcase this magnificent golfing destination to one of the world’s largest emerging markets.”

Golf tourism is already a major contributor to Scotland’s economy and is estimated to be worth close to £220m annually, with forecasts of reaching £300m by 2020.


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim April 23, 2015 12:19
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1 Comment

  1. David Shannon April 23, 16:56

    Do not forget that the venerable London Scottish Golf Club, now 150 years old, can extend the Scottish Golf experience at the start or end of a visit to the UK through London. We are always keen to welcome visitors to experience our unique course and ancient Clubhouse. See

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