As Greg Norman and company head to Royal Troon this week for the British Seniors Open there comes a strident call to action from the golf tourism industry across Scotland.
Following the Golf Tourism Scotland national industry workshop in Ayr last week, attended by more than fifty businesses from across the country, the clear message emerging was the need for the industry to be given the lead in developing the future marketing planning for the Scottish golf product.
GTS Chairman Gary Wilkinson called on the public sector bodies to recognise the skills of those in the private sector and conclude that effective and efficient marketing planning could only come with strong partnership with the industry.
“The workshop in Ayrshire last week underlined the product knowledge and understanding of the market place that those working in the industry on a day to day basis have.
“With the current economic conditions it is imperative that the marketing effort to promote Scotland is one that has industry support – and undoubtedly the best way to secure that support is through their input. This is not about increasing public sector expenditure, it is more fundamental and focuses on the need for the industry to be involved at all stages of the planning process. Something that has been wholly lacking in recent years.”
The workshop focussed on key areas including structure, marketing, product development and future funding and generated a range of action points.
Gary Wilkinson continued, “In more than eighteen years in the industry it was one of the most positive and productive meetings I have been involved in and the enthusiasm and desire for action was unprecedented.”
The workshop resulted in a direct call on VisitScotland and its partners to recognise the value of having this untapped industry knowledge base involved in developing its marketing activities for the future.
“The industry knows the product and market better than anyone else and it cannot continue to be ignored in the way it has. Whether it be Homecoming Scotland 2009, Ryder Cup 2014, website marketing, exhibitions and events strategy or improving industry communications, it is critical that Golf Tourism Scotland and its members are fully recognised as providing the proverbial extra club in the bag,” Mr Wilkinson concluded.
Key points emerging from the meeting included;
• Golf Tourism Scotland wants to ensure that the public sector is securing best value from the estimated £1 million annual marketing spends on golf, and urges rigorous analysis of the use of public funding. Its aim is to ensure the effectiveness of current expenditure and leverage private support. Private sector marketing on golf in Scotland is conservatively estimated to be 3 times the value of public sector funding.
• Golf Tourism Scotland, as an industry-led body, has consistently requested a greater say in the marketing development of the Scottish golf product and consistently been excluded from most of the decision-making processes.
• Golf Tourism Scotland calls for realistic growth targets for the industry, based on rigorous statistical analysis and proper understanding of current commercial conditions and challenges.
• Golf Tourism Scotland calls for genuine partnership, increased communication, creative thinking, realistic goals and decision-making processes at national and governmental level that include, rather than ignore, the vast knowledge and experience on offer from the private sector.
• The current economic climate and industry frustration at the lack of co-ordinated activity in the past requires action on all levels.
• If given the means and the cooperation the golf tourism industry in Scotland can deliver a great product.
Golf Tourism Scotland www.golftourismscotland.com