Scotland’s ‘Golf Tourism and Visitor Strategy’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 30, 2021 19:45

With many golf clubs in Scotland still struggling due to a lack of overseas visitors, a ‘Golf Tourism and Visitor Strategy’ is being developed to shape the next nine years of golf tourism. 

There are currently at least two tiers of golf clubs: Those that are thriving because of the increase in participation due to the pandemic, and those that are struggling because they rely on additional revenue streams, such as their hotels and restaurants, which have still not recovered yet from Covid-19.

Some of the worst-hit venues are ones that rely on tourists, typically in Scotland and Ireland, and in the former a new ‘Golf Tourism and Visitor Strategy’ is to be developed, aiming to place a focus on destination development, community engagement, education and health as the industry seeks to recover from the challenges of the pandemic.

Led by the Scottish Golf Tourism Development Group (SGTDG), in consultation with the entire golf tourism industry, the new strategy will help shape the future of the industry until 2030. It has secured funding from the Scottish government and its members include Scottish Golf, The PGA in Scotland and Regional Golf Tourism Development Groups across the country, spanning multiple sectors including accommodation, tour operators and travel companies. Observers of the group include VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation.

Consultation and research are soon to take place from the nation’s major championship courses and nine-hole layouts to golf tourism businesses and organisations from related sectors. The strategy, developed by strategic marketing agency platform77, will be founded on the findings from a questionnaire circulated to the extended golf tourism industry and related sectors across the country.

In addition to concentrating on the recognised golfing tourist, the strategy intends to have a wider visitor golfer focus – given their importance to the majority of golf courses and businesses at all levels – and how stakeholders can effectively engage with them to positively impact their organisation.

Tourism minister Ivan McKee said: “It is a hugely important time for the tourism industry in Scotland as it emerges from Covid-19 and builds for a brighter future, aided by the resumption of domestic travel.

“Scotland is the ‘Home of Golf’ and this strategy will help to shape the future of the entire golfing sector in addition to providing a range of community, educational and, of course, sporting benefits. The Scottish government is fully behind the tourism sector as it looks to rebuild from the pandemic.”

Karin Sharp, chief operating officer at Scottish Golf, said: “During the pandemic, Scottish Golf focussed on building stronger partnerships within the golf industry and across the sporting sector to ensure we cater to the needs of all our stakeholders.

“We are delighted to be supporting the Golf Tourism and Visitor Strategy in Scotland. We know that golf contributes significantly to the tourism industry in Scotland, and as the country begins its recovery from the pandemic, this strategy will position golf at the forefront of plans for tourism in the future.

“We would encourage all affiliated clubs to engage with the Scottish Golf Tourism Development Group during their consultation across the golf industry to ensure a broad range of views and perspectives are shared.”

Stuart French, chair of the SGTDG, added: “We are immensely grateful to have been provided with the opportunity by the Scottish government to develop the strategy.

“Given the events of the past 15 months, this strategy is hugely significant as the tourism sector recovers from Covid-19 and builds towards the future. The scope of the new strategy will be far-reaching, and 100 percent industry led. I would therefore encourage organisations, whether directly involved in the golf tourism or wider related sectors, to complete the online questionnaire and have their say in the future direction of the industry.”

Meanwhile, ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’, a private sector led / public sector supported business and marketing alliance with almost 40 members, including golf clubs, accommodation providers and other local businesses, has said website sessions are up 120 percent and database growth up 592 percent compared with last year.

After a challenging 15 months, the East Lothian region says it is ‘good to go’ this year as restrictions from the global pandemic continue to ease. Boasting the world’s greatest concentration of championship links courses, the 30-mile coastline offers a fantastic destination to suit all abilities and budgets for stay-and-play breaks ­ as well as one of Scotland’s driest and sunniest locations for all-year round golf.

With a choice of 21 courses in total­ headlined by championships tests such as 16-time Open venue Muirfield and this year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open host, The Renaissance, to delightful challenges like Gullane No.3, Royal Musselburgh and Winterfield ­ it offers a variety of golf at incredible value.

Combined with a plentiful choice of accommodation ­including resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering with some offering short-game golf facilities on site

David Cockerton, owner of Garleton Lodge, Hotel, Restaurant & Spa, said: “We are all looking forward to a successful year in 2021 and welcoming visitors back from across Scotland and beyond. It has been a hugely challenging period for everyone due to the pandemic and we hope there is a demand to return to East Lothian such is the quality of our product. Scotland’s Golf Coast continues to be a success and we look forward to working with all our providers to capitalise on the excitement for golf and the opportunities to travel again in 2021.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 30, 2021 19:45
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