IAGTO began its Quarterly Golf Tourism Survey in 2015 collecting and analysing data from 750+ golf tour operators, golf resorts, golf courses and hotels every three months and more than 1000 companies once a year. Some of the headline data from the 2018 3rd Quarter survey is presented below. Please note that while these figures are an accurate representation of the data submitted from the companies that completed the survey, they can only be used as an indication to global trends.
Golf tour operator sales in the 3rd quarter of 2018 were up on average 5.0% year on year compared to 7.8% in the first quarter and 5.5% in the second quarter. This was to be expected as IAGTO had projected that growth rates would slow to between 5-7% during the period 2018-2020, after consistently high annual growth of 8-9% from 2011 to 2017.
With a strong economy behind them, North American tour operators continued to perform well in the 3rd quarter with sales up 7.4% year on year which matches the 7.3% reported in the previous quarter. Asian operators came in above the average at 5.7% (down slightly from 6.1% in the 2nd quarter) and the sales growth reported by European operators was just below the global average @ 4.5% down from 6.2% in the previous quarter.
Despite our conservative projections of a slowing rate of growth, forward projections by golf tour operators were bullish, with business on the books up 7.8% year on year as of 1 October 2018 (compared to 6.4% on July 1st).
Only 13% of tour operators reported a drop in forward bookings, with this number being the same in both 2nd and 3rd quarters. North American tour operators are continuing to surge ahead with forward business up 9.1% compared to this time last year (altho not as high as the 11.5% increase reported on 1st July). Asian operators’ forward bookings were up 8.6% year on year on 1st October, compared to 7.4% on 1st July and European operators’ business was up a healthy 7.8% compared to 6.1% on 1st July.
Canada is performing just as well as an outbound market (sales up 10% in the 3rd quarter) as the USA. In Asia: Singapore and Vietnam have reported the highest quarterly sales growths (13% and 18% respectively) and Australia has particularly good forward bookings (11%). The top performing outbound markets in Europe were France, Iceland, Finland, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark and Norway in that order.
This year the average growth rates of golf visitor arrivals over the first three quarters reported by over 400 golf resorts, golf courses and hotels were 2.9%, 1.2% and 2.6% respectively. As reported previously, lower growth rates globally is likely to be a reflection of demand beginning to exceed supply in many popular destinations, putting the brakes on high annual growth.
Good to see that North American golf destinations had a good quarter up 4.9% year on year compared to 1.3% in the 2nd quarter, with the USA up 4.0%.
Asia Pacific destinations were up 4.4% on average with South East Asia the strongest region up approaching double figures year on year with forward bookings up 7.2% on 1st October. Vietnam continues to shine up 23% with the Philippines posting two good quarters in a row up 4.6% in the 2nd quarter and up 5.5% in the 3rd quarter following April’s Asia Golf Tourism Convention in Manila.
There is a big contrast in Europe between the winter-sun Mediterranean destinations (which were down 1.2% year on year in golf visitor arrivals in the 3rd quarter but up 0.8% in forward bookings on 1st October) and the summer golf destinations which are showing forward bookings up 6.2%.
While the golf travel business France received from July to September was only up 1.9%, the forward bookings in early October (after the Ryder Cup!) were up 8.4% year on year.
Scotland has been performing consistently strongly over the past couple of years and enjoyed the highest growth in golf visitor arrivals of the Europe’s summer golf destinations with forward bookings up 6.8%. Northern Ireland continues to punch above its weight, up 6.0% in golf visitor arrivals with forward bookings up 7.8%, while Slovenia enjoyed a pre-IGTM boost up strongly into double figures in terms of golf visitor arrivals and forward bookings.
Spain and Portugal were on a level footing, reporting golf visitor arrivals in the low summer season (July- September) down 1.8% and 2.0% year on year respectively, with Portugal showing slightly stronger forward bookings.
Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia are continuing to enjoy the strongest year on year growth in golf visitor arrival and forward bookings.
So with only three months of data left to collect in 2018, we are already assured that golf tour operator sales will be up again this year, but not by such a large margin as in the previous few years. We will see in January whether Europe’s Mediterranean winter-sun destinations have been able to avoid a drop in golf visitor arrivals due to saturation levels in some locations, and whether North Africa and Turkey are likely to make further inroads into this market in 2019.
This report was compiled by IAGTO