In total, 54% of the 120 golf tour operators surveyed said there had been a noticeable increase in demand (the last time the survey was undertaken, in 2008, this figure was 73%), while 38% had experienced a decrease (up from 10% in 2008).
While the results are generally positive, 42% of tour operators noted that average expenditure on golf holidays had reduced, indicating lower prices in the market and greater cost consciousness among customers.
The results also indicate the effects of currency exchange fluctuations on demand in certain countries, including the UK where the devaluation of the British Pound versus the Euro resulted in a drop in outbound tourism, increasing demand for domestic golf travel.
In terms of customer behaviour, the quality of the courses was the most important factor for customers selecting a destination, said operators, followed by package price and accessibility.
Looking forward, 80% of golf tour operators said they anticipate a clear upswing in demand following the economic crisis, while 20% forecast either stagnation or a decrease.
Established destination such as Spain and Portugal will continue to dominate the golf travel market, say operators, while traditional destinations such as the UK, Ireland and the USA remain important golf tourism hot spots. Turkey is the fastest emerging new golf travel destination, the survey reveals, with both demand and the number of courses in regions such as Belek continuing to grow. Southeast Asia, including the countries of Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, are also highlighted as destination with significant potential for golf travel.
Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice in EMA, said: “While the economic downturn has clearly had an impact on golf travel, as it has done with the wider travel and tourism market, the indicative results of our survey are positive.
“However, it is also clear that golf tour operators, destinations and resorts should understand their customers’ needs and behaviour patterns.”
Commenting on the survey and the state of the golf travel market on the Golf Business Community website (www.golfbusinesscommunity.com), Peter Walton, Chief Executive of IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) said: “The entire tourism industry has faced enormous challenges over the past two years. Golf travel tends to recover quicker than general leisure tourism, with regular golfers refusing to be denied their regular golf travel fix.
“However, their choice of destination and resorts can change quickly and dramatically which means that not all golf tourism suppliers recover at the same rate from every downturn.”
For more information about the golf travel market, including a video interview with Peter Walton and an exclusive in-depth interview with Andrew Stanley, CEO of Golfbreaks.com, Europe’s largest golf travel company, visit: www.golfbusinesscommunity.com