Over 70 of the world’s leading golf tour operators have arrived to meet face to face with the courses and locations that make Scotland the home of the sport.
Yesterday the Trump Turnberry Hotel hosted visitors who held over 3,500 meetings with golf course and hotel exhibitors from Scotland, who expect that the events taking place at Scottish Golf Tourism Week will attract further international golf tourists in coming years.
Fraser Cromarty, chief executive of the Nairn Golf Club, said it was his first time exhibiting at Scottish Golf Tourism Week. The Highland golf stalwart, who took over the top job at Nairn having moved from Castle Stuart Golf Links four years ago, said Scottish Golf Tourism Week was a “fantastic” opportunity to meet new buyers.
He said: “This is a great event for Scotland and a fantastic initiative – we want to support something like this in Scotland. There’s a lot of new faces here. It shows you the new business that is available in the various golf tour businesses around the world.
“I have already met some potential new clients. Looking through my appointment sheet today most of these are new. It is encouraging and quite exciting.”
Pam Smith, Captain of Crail Golfing Society, has returned to Scottish Golf Tourism Week for a second year. A historic course established in 1786, the club enjoyed a record year this year, attracting more than 17,000 visitors to play at its two courses located two miles east of Crail in Fife.
The society benefits in attracting international visitors from its proximity to St Andrews and Kingsbarns. About 40% of its business comes from international visitors and Smith says that bookings are even further ahead already for 2018.
She said: “We had a very positive result from attending Scottish Golf Tourism Week last year. At the event people were checking for availability. This year feels very much the same. We have a very busy schedule of appointments.
“We are lucky but we are not complacent. We have already met with two completely new tour operators, including one from India.
“It is also the familiarisation trips. We had visitors to Crail yesterday and they loved it. He said he’s definitely putting business our way. We would never have met him if we weren’t at Scotish Golf Tourism Week this year.”
Maria Richardson, of Spela Golf (Gailes Travel), arranges golf tours in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland for Scandinavian and US tour groups. It is the second year she has attended Scottish Golf Tourism Week and on this time out she visited golf courses in Ayrshire including Royal Troon and Prestwick golf clubs as well as a number of “hotels and castles along the way”.
She said: “We send thousands of people here every year. It is the home of golf. I am here to see people I already know and find a few more hidden gems we hadn’t found before. I have found a hotel that will be really good for us.”
Wayne Mordon, President of Athlone Golf Tours based in Canada, puts together custom tours ranging in price between £2,800-£3,000 for discerning North American golfers.
He said currency exchange rates were making Scotland even more attractive to his clientele who value Scottish tradition and its links course experiences.
He said: “The things I tell people is it is less expensive to play in the UK than it has been for 20 years. People don’t know that unless you tell them.”
His familiarisation trip with Scottish Golf Tourism Week took him to St Andrews, where he was able to visit hotel and accommodation providers and see where they were in relation to the golf courses.
He said: “It was great to see the accommodation side. We stopped by St Andrews University dorms, to the Ardgowan to the Dunvegan hotels. It allows me to offer combinations, and a range of options to where they can stay. It helps me visually. What I have learned about this morning is some properties I wouldn’t have considered are now in my arsenal of selling.”
He said events such as Scottish Golf Tourism Week were essential to ensure Scotland retains its premier position globally as the home of golf.
“To me what Scottish Golf Tourism Week represents is Scotland is open for business rather than assuming people will just go to Scotland. It is an important step.”
Tom Lovering, Director of Scottish Golf Tourism Week, said that the event had brought operators that were planning to increase their bookings to Scotland next year.
“We expect the buyers here, several which are new to Scottish Golf Tourism Week, will book a great deal more tours and facilities as a result of what they have seen here this week. Scotland is the home of golf, but it is events such as Scottish Golf Tourism Week which ensure we stay as a top global destination for the world’s golfers.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “I’m delighted to hear the positive feedback from buyers and exhibitors at Scottish Golf Tourism Week. This is a fantastic opportunity for golf tourism businesses from across Scotland to meet face to face with tour operators from across the globe, generating more business and more visitors to Scotland.
“Golf tourism is worth more than £286 million to Scotland annually and helps to support our visitor economy, not just through golf courses but our hotels, bars, restaurants and other tourism attractions.”
Scottish Golf Tourism Week, supported by VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, continues and culminates in the annual Scottish Golf Tourism Awards dinner on Thursday.
For more detail on the value of golf tourism to Scotland visit: http://www.visitscotland.org/research_and_statistics/tourism_sectors/golf.aspx