Analysis of IAGTO’s 2nd Quarter Global Golf Tourism Survey* shows that golf tour operator sales in the 2nd quarter of 2018 were up on average 5.5% year on year, compared to a growth of 7.8% in the first quarter, writes Peter Walton, IAGTO Chief Executive.
This was to be expected as IAGTO projected last year 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.
Forward bookings of golf tour operators as of 1 July 2018 were up 6.4% year on year. North American operators are surging on with forward business up 11.5% compared to this time last year while Asian operators were up 7.4% and European operators up a healthy 6.0%.
Very interesting to see that the UK outbound market is still performing well with sales up 11.2% in the quarter and forward bookings up an average of 9.5%. Other strong performing markets in Europe were France (+13.9%), Eastern Europe (+9.4%) and Scandinavia (+8.2%). In Asia, India continues to grow as an outbound golf market (up 17% in both sales and forward bookings), Vietnam (+12.5%) and China (+7.8% with forward bookings up 10.3%).
Historically, suppliers (golf resorts, golf courses and hotels) report a slower growth rate of golf visitor arrivals purely because they have a finite number of tee times and rooms to sell, whereas there is no limit to the rate of growth of tour operator sales, other than inherent demand. Lower growth rates reported by suppliers globally this year reflects demand beginning to exceed supply in many popular destinations, putting the brakes on consecutive years of high annual growth.
European destinations performed consistently, up 2.3% year on year while growth in North America remains lower at 1.3% despite the rapid growth in outbound golf travel from the USA and Canada. The main golf destinations of South East Asia are performing well (up 3.3% in golf visitor arrivals and 2.8% in forward bookings), with Thailand (+5.0%) and the Philippines (up 4.6% in sales and +7.5% in forward bookings following April’s Asia Golf Tourism Convention in Manila) doing very strongly.
Looking at how individual destinations and regions have been performing in the second quarter highlights a number of interesting situations and trends. North African golf destinations continue to bounce back with Tunisia seeing 13% more golf visitor arrivals and 24% ahead in forward bookings. Turkey as well continues its resurgence up 18% with forward bookings up 15%.
The focus that Northern Ireland is putting on golf tourism, with The Open Championship heading to Royal Portrush next year, has seen its golf visitor arrivals surge ahead in the past quarter, up 7.5% year on year, one of the best results in Northern Europe.
Elsewhere the Dominican Republic is having a good year with golf visitor arrivals up 10.5% and forward bookings up 8.5%.
*Since 2015 IAGTO collects data from 750+ golf tour operators, golf resorts, golf courses and hotels every three months and more than 1000 companies once a year.