Scotland’s golf and tourism industries have declared their ambition to make more of the country’s world-class status as the Home of Golf.
A New Strategy for Golf Tourism was introduced by the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, Henry McLeish; the Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport, Rhona Brankin, and Scotland’s most successful golfer of modern times – Colin Montgomerie.
The new plan has been devised by the Scottish Golf Tourism Executive, a coalition of public and private sector organisations, chaired by the Scottish Tourist Board. It identifies a range of measures necessary to achieve an ambitious new target – a 4.4% annual growth rate in golf tourism.
The Chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, Lord Gordon of Strathblane, said that there could be no dispute that Scotland’s natural assets in golf are genuinely world class. He commented, “The names of our championship courses resonate around the world and represent a tremendous advantage to Scotland in attracting some of the 50 million people who play the game. The competition in golf tourism has become even more intense, however, and this Strategy identifies what we need to do to reaffirm our status as the Home of Golf in a way that brings us more tourism and benefits Scotland’s golf clubs too.”
Colin Montgomerie said: “The championship courses may represent golf’s ‘ultimate challenge’ but Scotland has over 500 golf courses, offering the visitor a ‘real’ golfing experience, at an affordable price, amongst magnificent scenery and hospitable people. I’m glad that this Strategy has been published, because in my view it’s time that the people who bequeathed the game to the world derived more economic benefit from the enjoyment it brings to millions.”
Hamish Grey, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Golf Union, said: “Visiting golfers are key to the financial viability of Scottish golf clubs and we very much welcome the development of a co-ordinated strategic framework for golf tourism and the associated increased government investment it will bring. Such a co-ordinated approach can only benefit our national game.”
Golf tourism to Scotland is currently worth almost £100 million to the Scottish economy, around £70 million from UK visitors and the remainder from overseas. The new Strategy aims to boost spend by 4.4% per annum by:
Developing new marketing campaigns for Scottish golf involving spending by the Scottish Tourist Board of up to £500,000.
Investing in golf business development with a £400,000 boost from Scottish Enterprise and £250,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Appointing a new National Golf Tourism Development Manager to lead the implementation of the Strategy.
Implementing training packages to assist golf clubs with marketing, business planning and service.
Establishing regional golf development groups to improve the service to visiting golfers throughout Scotland.
Developing the network of ‘golf classic’ events to improve access for visitors to attractive golf packages.
Providing support for the development of infrastructure and facilities for visitors in Scotland’s golf clubs.
Improving the industry’s market intelligence by researching golf markets and golf consumer.
Identifying new channels through which to promote Scottish golf to consumers,
Introducing new research methods to monitor the way golf tourism is measured and therefore the progress of the Strategy.