The sun shone on the 22nd edition of International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), which took place in the bustling city of Marrakech in Morocco this week (October 14-17).
The city provided the backdrop for the perfect blend of climate, culture and golf, with the show welcoming more than 1,300 industry professionals from around the world to do business to help build international golf tourism.
Initiatives organised included golf tournaments and FAM tours for participants at some of Morocco’s best golf courses. The Welcome Address had headline speakers covering subjects as diverse as women in golf from broadcaster Naga Munchetty and sustainability from R&A’s Steve Isaac. More than 70 international golf travel writers, publications and contributors registered to attend, and the exhibitors were given opportunities to network with them to extend their marketing activity.
A total of 477 exhibitors attended IGTM this week, with new exhibitors showcasing destinations such as Japan, Russia and Azerbaijan.
Commenting on their participation at IGTM 2019, Ian Knox, Director of Operations at the European Tour, talked of the importance of the show to his brand. “This is our 10th year attending IGTM and it’s been the biggest yet. Twenty-three of our European Tour destinations are on the stand, so this is a key highlight of the year for us. The feedback we’ve had is that the quality of buyers has been better this year than ever.”
David Ashington, Director of Sales & hospitality at Monte Rei Golf & Country Club in Portugal, said: “It’s been an excellent show, very well attended by tour operators from all over the world and the reason we’ve had two stands here this year with two full agendas of appointments and 84 meetings scheduled. Seventy of the appointments we’ve had have already been producing business for us. We’ve already contracted a lot of business on site this year, including two Pro-Ams, bringing back a good return on our participation immediately.”
First-time exhibitor Anton Samsonov, Golf Operations Manager at Dreamland Golf Club in Azerbaijan, was pleased to reconnect with buyers in person. “It’s our first year at IGTM and we are very happy to make sure people know about the gem that is Azerbajan as the new golf adventure destination. We have had many different meetings with buyers as well as media and we are very excited to meet the buyers in person who we have already been working.”
Buyers attending IGTM included Richelle Nemeth, Vice President Marketing & Administration at Pacific Links International. He said: “I have discovered many interesting contacts at IGTM this year that we are planning to do more business with in the future. We had a lot of surprising appointments with enthusiastic people and I enjoyed the presentations in the IGTM theatre. Morocco has been a great host for the event, and we’ve been pleased to explore the destination and its golf courses.”
Also commenting on the success of the show was Alicia Ristori, Manager of Italia Golf & More. She added: “This is my first IGTM and it has so far already proved to be one of the biggest prospecting tools we have. IGTM is so well suited for building our business. Both North and South Africa have become so important to our clients, therefore it was been brilliant to meet with businesses in these destinations. As a result of this event, we will build a good network and create itineraries for our clients to bring golf travellers to Africa.”
David Todd, IGTM Event Manager, focused this year on ensuring the business platform was right. Every hosted buyer had to be pre-qualified with proof of their business commitment to the sector. “We have built a sustainable business model for IGTM by developing a hosted buyer programme that delivers tour operators and travel agents from around the world – 382 in total from 46 countries and increasing the numbers from the US (200%) and Europe (4%).
“At the same time, Morocco has been the perfect host. Not only have they brought elements of their countries culture to this year’s event, but they have worked tirelessly to provide IGTM with the right blend of networking and business. We always consider success by the feedback from our exhibitors and buyers – from day one we have learned that the business of golf tourism is very much growing, and we will now build on this for 2020.”
The 20th edition of IAGTO’s annual golf tourism awards also took place on the final day of the IGTM – with Portugal’s Algarve scooping the top prize. To celebrate the occasion, IAGTO revealed the top 15 golf destinations as voted for by its member golf tour operators and has announced just one overall Golf Destination of the Year, instead of one for each of five geographical regions. You can read more on the IAGTO award winners here.
The awards were followed by a ceremony with a handover to the host city for 2020, Wales ICC and Celtic Manor Resort. IGTM 2020 will take place from 26-29 October 2020 and is the first time the event will take place in the UK. ICC Chief Executive Ian Edwards said: “We are absolutely delighted at the prospect of hosting IGTM at the Celtic Manor Resort and the newly opened ICC Wales.”