Global Edition

Billion-dollar U.S. golf tourism industry has significant capacity for growth

11.01am 6th January 2016 - Travel

North America GTC websiteWhile golf visitor numbers grew in 2015 for U.S. golf courses, there is still significant capacity for “desirable” growth from both the international and domestic golf travel sectors – with potential for as much as a 20% increase this year and beyond.

That is one of the initial findings from the year-long golf tourism survey being undertaken by the global golf tourism organization, IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators).

IAGTO began its first nationwide golf tourism study In September 2015 following an announcement in June at its 7th North America Golf Tourism Convention (NAC) in Palm Springs that it was teaming up with Brand USA, the destination-marketing organization for the U.S., on a major initiative to drive golf tourism to the United States.

IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton said: “Although we already carry out the most comprehensive global golf tourism survey annually, this is undoubtedly the most ambitious project that we have undertaken considering the sheer size and variety of the USA’s golf destinations and the number of golf courses involved.

“It was striking that only 2% of the participating courses kept accurate data on domestic and international visitor numbers, so providing them with a mechanism to achieve this simply and with minimum hassle was very well received.

“Golf courses participating in the survey will not only get a better idea of the direction that golf tourism within and to the USA is taking, but most importantly where they themselves are positioned within that national picture.”

Walton added: “The project is ongoing and the full findings will be presented at the 8th NAC taking place at Pinehurst Resort, SC, America’s Home of Golf, on 27 June this year.

“Although still six months away, the event already has received a record number of registrations from international golf tour operators and U.S. golf courses, resorts, hotels and DMCs (destination management companies).

“We already have a lot of good data and we are keen to make this available to the golf tourism industry straight away.”

Key mid-term findings from the IAGTO U.S. golf tourism survey:

Golf courses, CVBs and state tourist boards can participate in this ongoing national golf tourism survey by visiting

For details of the 2016 North America Golf Tourism Convention, visit


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