Golf Tourism England (GTE) enjoyed a welcome reception from golf’s key tourism suppliers and buyers during a first appearance at the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM).
Hosted on the banks of Italy’s scenic Lake Como, the event presented a terrific opportunity for the rapidly-growing GTE initiative to communicate the nation’s wealth of golf destinations to key tourism representatives, based in 65 countries worldwide.
With support from Visit England, GTE played a pivotal role in establishing the very first England Pavilion within the Villa Erba venue, which delivered increased footfall and enhanced exposure for the GTE member bodies exhibiting.
Since its inception in July 2014, more than 70 golf properties have enlisted as GTE members, several of which joined founder Andrew Cooke at IGTM in demonstrating the strength of England’s tourism potential.
“The decision for The Belfry to join as a member of GTE was very easy,” said Mark Addison, Golf Business Manager of four-time Ryder Cup venue, The Belfry.
“We have already seen the benefits of the membership through IGTM and the Visit England pavilion which was coordinated by GTE. It helped to educate and raise awareness of the golf on offer within England and allowed fellow English clubs and resorts to work in partnership.
“Since the formation of GTE earlier in the year, Andrew and his team have been a great help and we are excited about the opportunities GTE will provide and the work that is being done to put golf in England on the map as a world-class destination.”
These sentiments were echoed by Golf at Goodwood General Manager Stuart Gillett, who commented: “Goodwood attended the IGTM for the first time and were delighted with the interest we received and the quality of our appointments. It was very helpful to be part of the English Pavilion organised by GTE, and we will be back again next year”.
Other GTE members showcasing at IGTM included leading golfing venues and regional golf tourism bodies England’s Golf Coast, Visit Kent, Close House and The Grove.
John George, General Manager, Prince’s Golf Club and The Lodge at Prince’s, added: “For the first time this year, under the guidance of Andrew Cooke, we had a group of clubs exhibiting at IGTM Lake Como and the impact this had was tremendous.
“Whilst we each had our individual stands, the uniformity, branding and the ability to pass business across to a colleague representing another area of England with ease was incredible. England for once was properly represented at an international golf tourism event.
“Golf Tourism England, with Andrew Cooke’s drive, can be justifiably proud of its achievements in such a short space of time. From the IGTM exhibition and other media attention, GTE will only grow and attract more golf clubs and sponsors who want to be a part of such vibrant organisation.”
Encouraged by the wealth of praise for the GTE strategy and the general good will shown towards growing golf tourism in England, one of the world’s best-developed markets, Cooke said: “IGTM provided an important opportunity to engage with tour operators across the board and all of our members were able to strike new relationships and open opportunities for more international golfers to visit England.
“Our co-ordinated approach, evidenced in the establishment of the IGTM’s first England Pavilion, brings our members together under one umbrella and collectively presents England as a more attractive business proposition, thus encouraging the creation of new inbound travel routes.”
Visit England, the national tourist board, has also embraced the GTE initiative and was represented at the IGTM by CEO James Berresford, who participated in a Destination Briefing to highlight England’s remarkable golf tourism potential.
He said: “With over 1,900 golf courses, including famous golf courses such as Royal Birkdale, Royal St George’s, The Belfry and Wentworth, England is well placed to become one of the world’s major golfing destinations and capture a sizeable share of the estimated €15bn global golf travel market.
“Combine this with England’s celebrated cultural and historic attractions, great sporting events, modern vibrant cities and superb food and drink offering and you have all the ingredients for a truly memorable golfing holiday.
“Surprisingly, however, we’re not yet considered one of the world’s top destinations for a golf holiday. There is enormous potential to grow golf tourism to England and, over the coming months, VisitEngland will be working with Golf Tourism England and England Golf to develop a national golf tourism strategy.”
He added: “We will be developing a number of fantastic itineraries incorporating England’s most popular links, heathland and parkland courses, some hidden gems, our greatest attractions and delicious local food and drink. We look forward to sharing those ideas with golfers around the world to ensure that England’s magnificent golfing offer is right where it should be – top of every golfers holiday list!”
Golf Tourism England www.golftourismengland.com