A new tourism drive is aimed at attracting thousands more golfers to south west Scotland. Traditional local boundaries have been dispensed with so that Ayrshire and Arran, Argyll and Dumfries and Galloway can be marketed as a single golfing destination.
Financial backing from the three local enterprise companies has enabled the appointment of Lawri Shanks as the first golf tourism manager for the region which includes one-fifth of Scotland’s courses and extends to the islands of Arran, Bute, Cumbrae, Islay and Mull. Readers of American ‘Golf Digest’ have judged Ayrshire as the fifth greatest golf destination in the world.
The game of golf not only provides direct employment for more than 1,000 people but injects £24 million a year into the local economy. It is estimated that last year there were 272,000 rounds played by visitors on the 87 courses that have been judged ‘tourist friendly’.
Lawri, who is based at the Prestwick HQ of Ayrshire and Arran Tourist Board said, “I have already toured the area from Machrihanish to Lockerbie and have been encouraged by the enthusiasm of the clubs, hotels and guest houses to make this work.
World events have already had an impact at the top courses and hotels and ripples are also being felt down the chain. It has underlined the need for us to work together and bring both stability and market growth to our golf tourism.”
Muriel Millar, executive for innovation and growth at Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire said that Lawri acts as the lynchpin to bring together all the courses and key players. “I believe it benefits each area to be marketed as a single golf destination especially when you are linking such incredible courses as Machrie on Ilay, Turnberry and Southerness in Dumfriesshire, “she said.
“Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire is particularly pleased to be working with neighbouring public agencies to support an industry-led initiative designed to build new tourism opportunities.”
Ayrshire & Arran Tourist Board www.ayrshire-arran.com