A new golf tourism and visitor strategy is to be developed in Scotland, aiming to place a focus on destination development, community engagement, education and health as the industry seeks to recover from the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Led by the Scottish Golf Tourism Development Group (SGTDG), in consultation with the entire golf tourism industry, the new strategy will help shape the future of the industry from 2021 – 2030. The SGTDG, who have secured funding from the Scottish Government to develop the strategy, is fully representative of golf tourism within the Home of Golf.
Its members include Scottish Golf, The PGA in Scotland and Regional Golf Tourism Development Groups across the country, spanning multiple sectors including accommodation, tour operators and travel companies. Observers of the group include VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation.
Consultation and research are soon to take place, ensuring the strategy is fully representative – from the nation’s major championship courses and 9-hole layouts to golf tourism businesses and organisations from related sectors. The strategy, developed by strategic marketing agency platform77, will be founded on the findings from a wide-ranging questionnaire which will shortly be circulated to the extended golf tourism industry and related sectors across the country.
In addition to concentrating on the recognised golfing tourist, the strategy intends to have a wider visitor golfer focus – given their importance to the majority of golf courses and businesses at all levels – and how stakeholders can effectively engage with them to positively impact their organisation.
It aims to build on Scotland’s position and global reputation as a world-class golf destination, and ensure the benefits are felt in every golf visitor-related business nationwide. It therefore intends to deliver in key areas such as community engagement, developing opportunities for young people, improving health and wellbeing, skills development and delivering collaborative projects with key partners – with a focus on the short, medium and long-term priorities.
The previous Scottish Golf Tourism strategy was delivered between 2013 and 2020 – spanning two of golf’s biggest events with The 2014 Ryder Cup and The 2019 Solheim Cup staged at The Gleneagles Hotel – with the aim of growing the impact of golf tourism to Scotland to £300 million.
The SGTDG felt it prudent to build on the success of that strategy and incorporate innovative opportunities that support businesses and stakeholders during their recovery from Covid-19 and into the future.
Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “It is a hugely important time for the tourism industry in Scotland as it emerges from Covid-19 and builds for a brighter future, aided by the resumption of domestic travel. Scotland is the Home of Golf and this strategy will help to shape the future of the entire golfing sector in addition to providing a range of community, educational and of course, sporting benefits. The Scottish Government is fully behind the tourism sector as it looks to rebuild from the pandemic.”
Karin Sharp, Chief Operating Officer at Scottish Golf, said: “During the pandemic, Scottish Golf focussed on building stronger partnerships within the golf industry and across the sporting sector to ensure we cater to the needs of all our stakeholders. We are delighted to be supporting the Golf Tourism and Visitor Strategy in Scotland. We know that golf contributes significantly to the tourism industry in Scotland, and as the country begins its recovery from the pandemic, this strategy will position golf at the forefront of plans for tourism in the future.
“We would encourage all affiliated clubs to engage with the Scottish Golf Tourism Development Group during their consultation across the golf industry to ensure a broad range of views and perspectives are shared.”
Stuart French, Chair of the Scottish Golf Tourism Development Group, added: “We are immensely grateful to have been provided with the opportunity by the Scottish Government to develop the 2021 – 2030 Scottish Golf Tourism and Visitor Strategy. Given the events of the past 15 months, this strategy is hugely significant as the tourism sector recovers from Covid-19 and builds towards the future. The scope of the new strategy will be far-reaching, and 100% industry led. I would therefore encourage organisations, whether directly involved in the golf tourism or wider related sectors, to complete the online questionnaire that will be circulated shortly and have their say in the future direction of the industry.”