Brand USA – the destination-marketing organization for the U.S. – is partnering with the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) to raise the profile of American golf-related tourism among global travellers.
IAGTO, headquartered in London, is an advocate for nearly 600 golf tour operators in 61 countries. It also works with a network of close to 2,400 association members in 99 countries that are tied to golf tourism in order to develop optimal golfing experiences at golf destinations around the world.
The two organizations will evaluate the current state of golf tourism in the U.S. through an online survey designed by IAGTO that will be issued to golf courses and golf resorts across the country. Brand USA will promote the survey among local Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) as a prelude to forging marketing strategies that elevate golf tourism.
Peter Walton, IAGTO’s Chief Executive, unveiled the survey at his group’s seventh annual North America Golf Tourism Convention, held last month in Palm Springs, Calif. “The important first step in any integrated golf tourism strategy is to calculate the current value of golf tourism and to assess its capacity for growth,” he said.
Walton added that the new initiative identifies 30 U.S. states “as being most relevant and attractive to international visitors traveling for the primary purpose of playing golf.”
He said this year’s host organization for the convention, the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, would be the first local tourism organization to invite area golf venues to participate in the survey. Palm Springs has more than a hundred 18-hole courses.
Tom Garzilli, senior vice-president for Global Partner Marketing at Brand USA, who also addressed the convention, said: “The assessment provides a baseline from which to build, and the members of IAGTO present an audience that we can work with to develop appropriate golf tourism products. We can then work with our destination partners, the golf courses and CVBs to create meaningful cooperative-marketing programs that will resonate in U.S. markets of all sizes.”
“As a year-round activity, golf entices travellers to many parts of the U.S.,” Garzilli said. “I see this golf tourism opportunity as a way that Brand USA can provide value from the very smallest golf operator in a small city to our largest cities and states. It also presents opportunities for extended stays, travel with families and add-on destinations. We always try to find ways that we can add and create value for our partners and that’s why golf tourism is really compelling.”
IAGTO’s convention at Palm Springs drew 103 golf tour operators from 23 countries, and another 180 representatives of golf resorts, golf courses, hotels and tourist boards from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Further reference for state tourist boards, CVBs, golf courses and golf resorts: www.iagto.com/brandusa