The 2014 International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), the premier global event for golf tourism, opened in Lake Como, Lombardy, northern Italy, with news that global golf tour operator sales grew by 21.4% over the two-year period 2012-2013, with further growth already expected for 2014.
In his keynote opening address, Peter Walton, Chief Executive of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) announced the figures and shared an optimistic outlook for the golf tourism industry.
However, he also warned that golf destinations needed to implement properly funded strategies to secure sustainable golf tourism growth in the future.
“The responsibility for instigating a golf tourism strategy lies firmly at the door of the relevant tourist board or ministry of tourism. However, at a time when public sector bodies are overstretched and often cash-poor, a golf tourism strategy should not be seen as either onerous or costly, but rather, crucial,” said Peter Walton.
In order to assist its member golf destinations and to illustrate how all the elements of such a roadmap fit together, IAGTO also announced the publication of its Integrated Golf Tourism Strategy Blueprint, created from its unparalleled experience of developing golf tourism strategies for more than 30 countries and regions across the globe.
Mauro Parolini, Councillor for Commerce, Tourism and Tertiary for Regione Lombardia, added: “The 17th edition of IGTM is the first ever time the event has been held in Italy, in the Como area. It brings together a record number of buyers, 515 exhibitors from 55 countries and over 100 registered media. Over the four days of IGTM, we are also expecting approximately 13,000 meetings to take place.
“This confirms just how dynamic a market golf is, and emphasises its great potential. This also underlines why Regione Lombardia, with its high number of courses and rich tourist appeal, has decided to invest in this segment, and we hope other Italian regions will follow suit and look to host a future event.”
Peter Grimster, IGTM Exhibition Manager, said: “IGTM continues to be the platform from which the global golf tourism industry builds relationships, creates new business opportunities and discusses the key issues and opportunities that affect growth.
“There is much for the golf travel industry to be positive about for 2015 and the news from IAGTO that global tour operator sales continue to rise is hugely encouraging, and presents many opportunities for exhibitors here this week.
“I would also encourage everyone in the golf travel industry to study IAGTO’s Integrated Golf Tourism Strategy Blueprint, and digest the 10 steps it suggests golf destinations take to trigger future growth.”
In his address, the Italian Golf Federation Vice President, Antonio Bozzi, reemphasised the important role IGTM has played in helping bring golf in Italy to the fore. He explained how the Federation and eight of Italy’s main golfing regions, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, have closely cooperated over the last ten years on the “Italy Golf & More” project, which aims to draw out the country’s huge, untapped potential for golf tourism.
Among the main stakeholders involved in IGTM 2014, are host venue Villa Erba, Regione Lombardia and the Provinces of Como and Lecco, which, along with the Como Chamber of Commerce, are represented together as the Lake Como brand, the Italian Golf Federation with the Lombardy Regional Committee.
Among the Institutional Sponsors are Associazione Albergatori di Como, Como Imprenditori Alberghieri (C.I.A.), Golf Lake Como, Regio Insubrica and Italy Golf & More. Other Sponsors also supporting the project are Casinò Campione d’Italia, Acel Service, Caffè del Doge and Consorzio Vini Asolo Montello.