Italy will demonstrate to golf suppliers, buyers, visitors and media attending this year’s International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) why it is among the top 10 golf destinations considered most important by IAGTO’s golf tour operators¹.
The country boasts 410 golfing facilities, spread across 19 of Italy’s 20 regions, with the largest concentration located in the north of the country, especially in the Lombardy region, which counts 69 golfing venues.
Having been designed by some of the industry’s leading architects, including Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr., Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, George and Jim Fazio, Robert von Hagge and Kyle Phillips, each golf course offers varying experiences and landscapes to suit golfer of all playing abilities, and will be showcased during the 17th edition of IGTM at Villa Erba Exhibition and Conference Centre, on the banks of Lake Como, from October 27-30, 2014.
“Unlike many other European destinations, little is it known of our golfing history,” commented Franco Chimenti, President of the Italian Golf Federation. “Our heritage spans over a century, to 1903, when Italy’s first course, Circolo del Golf di Roma Acquasanta, was opened in the country’s capital.
“Italy’s reputation as a European golfing destination, however, has yet to be exploited. Participation only really started to grow in the mid-eighties, helped subsequently by internationally-recognised professionals, such as Costantino Rocca, Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, as well as the young Matteo Manassero, who have enhanced the pedigree of Italian golf and put the country on the map.”
In a recent study undertaken by the Ministry of Regional Affairs for Tourism and Sport, Italy was found to only attract seven per cent of Europe’s overall golf tourism industry, which is worth approximately €3.6 million².
Commenting on the findings of the research Franco Chimenti said: “On the golf tourism side, there is still a huge, untapped potential.
“Better known for its art, culture, fashion, food and wine – all increasingly essential elements of any golf break – Italy offers a great variety of memorable golfing experiences.
“Visitors can play close to an ancient Roman aqueduct at Roma Acquasanta; enjoying spectacular views of the Tyrrhenian sea off the coast of Sardinia at Il Pevero; in the shadow of Mount Etna, at Sicily’s Il Picciolo, or at the foot of the Mont Blanc glacier in the Alps, at Courmayeur.”
“Golf in Lombardy means far more than just a round of 18 holes. Visitors to the region become immersed in our Italian history, hospitality and heritage,” commented Mauro Parolini, Councillor for Commerce, Tourism and Tertiary, for Regione Lombardia, a strong supporter of IGTM 2014.
The Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club, which opened in 1907 on the hills overlooking the magnificent Lake Como, is the country’s second oldest club. It is a true golfing gem that guards a precious golf library of 1220 original, first-edition books.
“This is the largest existing collection of valuable golf publications, described as ‘second to none’ by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and worthy of a visit during this year’s IGTM,” continued Mauro Parolini.
Peter Grimster, IGTM Exhibition Manager, added: “Over the past year or so, there has been a concerted drive by Italy’s main golfing bodies, governmental departments and associations, as well as some commercial organisations to put the country on the golfing map.
“Used to receiving over 50 million visitors per year, Italy has all the necessary infrastructure and logistics in place, and offers a wide range of facilities, activities and experiences – so adding golf to the mix would help exploit what could be an immense potential and grow the country’s golf tourism.”
Among the main stakeholders involved in IGTM 2015, 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, and Como Imprenditori Alberghieri (C.I.A.), a consortium of 16 hotels representing a long-standing tradition and high quality standards.
For more information about IGTM and the venue for the 17th edition of the event, please visit: www.igtm.co.uk
¹ According to IAGTO’s second annual Golf Tourism Survey (2013), the leading golf destinations’ rankings were weighted in order of importance and depending on the location of the outbound market. The resulting listing was averaged across all operators worldwide.
² Turismo Italia 2020, Leadership, Lavoro, Sud (2103), undertaken by the Ministry of regional affairs for tourism and sport