Golf tourism is a niche kind of travel, but one that attracts higher spending given the nature of resorts and destinations associated with the sport.
The Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign, and Disney World are a few of the first images that come to mind when tourists imagine a trip to the United States.
Golf courses, places for deep focus and quiet patience, are not on most tourists’ mind — except those that are increasingly heading to the U.S. for that activity alone.
The U.S. is the fastest-growing destination for golf tour operators in 2013, according to data released by International Association of Golf Tour Operators, the global trade organization for the golf tourism industry.
The organization includes 553 golf tour operators that together control more than 85% of the world’s golf holiday packages with more than $2.2 billion in sales last year.
Other fast growing golf destinations include Portugal, the UAE, Scotland, Morocco, and Ireland; however, the global golf tourism industry is doing well worldwide. This year is expected to mark the third consecutive year of golf tour operators’ sales, building on top of more than 20-percent growth over the past two years.
IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton summed up the most recent global tourism trends earlier this year.
“Regionally, Asian operators report that golfers are starting to explore more golf destinations, with operators worldwide featuring more destinations and attracting new clients. In the USA, operators are seeing the return of the ‘middle market’, with high-end golf travel having remained strong throughout the economic crisis,” explains Walton.
“The strength of the outbound Australian market is expected to continue, while the Canadian market may level off in line with a weakening Canadian dollar.”
One interesting growth trend is seen in Germany, which experienced the greatest growth in women golfers in 2013. Germany also has the highest percentage of female golfers, representing 39 percent of all golfers in the country.
Despite differences in regional growth, golfers worldwide are split almost evenly in their preferred booking habits.
According to golf resorts and courses, half book more than three months in advance and half book less than three months before arrival.
Half, or 52 percent, of golfers worldwide book their golf holiday via a golf tour operator or travel agency compared to 48 percent that book directly.
There is; however, a third option outside of tour operators and direct bookings that’s now coming into play. Golfscape, which sees itself as Jetsetter for golf bookings at luxury resorts, is targeting travelers who prefer are used to booking online and prefer to search and shop option on their own.
Subscribe to Skift Pro
Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)Subscribe Now
Photo Credit: Chang Jian Zhang from Hangzhou, China, plays a round at Dove Canyon Golf Club in Dove Canyon, California. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times/MCT
U.S. to Ease Travel Restrictions for All Vaccinated Travelers Worldwide From November
This is the most significant international travel news since the start of pandemic restrictions being put in place. Watch travel bookings go crazy — and the share prices of travel companies.
Rashaad Jorden | 3 days ago
U.S. Considers Vaccine Requirement for International Travelers
Vaccine requirements are a no-brainer to reopen U.S. borders to the rest of the world. But don't expect this to happen overnight — the Delta variant is still a major headwind and concern to those who have to approve any kind of reopening.
David Shepardson, Reuters | 1 week ago
U.S. Tourism Brands Take Quick Advantage of New Rules to Sign Elite College Athletes to Endorsement Deals
Travel companies and destinations need to do extensive research and pay attention to more than the biggest sports — football and men's basketball — to find the right athletes who will be worthy returns on the promotional investments.
Rashaad Jorden , Skift | 3 weeks ago