After news of the troubles facing high-profile golf courses in Ireland comes news of cut backs in Scotland, where there are more courses per person than anywhere else in Europe.
Bloomberg reports that the 700 staff at Gleneagles, the five-star Scottish hotel owned by Diageo Plc, have received letters asking them to look at voluntary severance, unpaid leave, reduced working hours or early retirement.
This is all because of a slump in bookings, said a company spokesman. “Like all hotels the corporate side of the business has taken a knock because corporates don’t have the money to spend,” he continued. “We are in the fortunate position that we have a strong leisure market that is not so affected.”
Golf contributed about €4 billion to the gross domestic product in the U.K. and Ireland in 2006, said KPMG’s Golf Benchmark report, but that’s all set to change as companies spend less on entertaining.
“Corporate events like golf days, taking a client out for a round of golf, those kinds of activities will suffer,” said Andrea Sartori, author of the KPMG report. “There will definitely be a cut.”
Gleneagles has three 18-hole golf courses, an equestrian centre, shooting, fishing and a spa at its complex in Perthshire, about an hour’s drive north of Edinburgh.
Scotland, where golf started in the 15th century, is using the 250th anniversary of the birth of national poet Robert Burns to bolster tourist numbers, including golfers.
“Everybody knows times are tough,” Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said at the Dalmahoy golf resort near Edinburgh on 4th February in support of the campaign. “This is something we should have done earlier. I don’t think we are anywhere near saturation point as new markets open up.”
Scotland is also relying on the decline in the pound sterling to attract more tourists, he said. The pound has fallen 15 percent against the euro and 27 percent against the dollar in the past year.