Golf tourism on the up, says KPMG


Sean Dudley

Golf tourism is bouncing back from the economic downturn, according to a new survey by KPMG.

According to the Golf Travel Insights report, 60 per cent of golf tour operators experienced an increase in the number of golf breaks booked in 2011, compared to 38 per cent in 2010. Similarly, just 12 per cent of tour operators reported a decrease in bookings in 2011 compared to 54 per cent the year before.

The survey, published by KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice, included feedback from 90 golf tour operators in 35 countries, most based in Europe. Spain and Portugal remained the most popular destinations, ahead of the UK & Ireland, while Turkey, as well as Thailand and Vietnam, continue to emerge as popular destinations for golf holidays, the report revealed.

However, Spain and Portugal saw an average price drop of 10-20 per cent for golf holiday packages in 2011, while destinations in South East Asia increased prices by 30-50 per cent.

Turkey also experienced a price hike of 10-20 per cent. However, most golf tour operators (51 per cent) maintained similar prices in 2011 to 2010.

North African tourism suffered as a result of political unrest in the region, while Italy and Bulgaria, considered upcoming golf travel destinations, proved increasingly popular with golf tour operators.

While North America maintains a strong domestic golf travel market, Argentina and the Dominican Republic are becoming popular outbound tourism destinations for US citizens, tour operators reported.

Golfers from the USA and Canada, the UK, Scandinavia (predominantly Sweden) and Germany remain the biggest golf travellers. KPMG also found that golfers spend significantly more on a holiday than regular leisure tourists, typically €600-900 on a four to seven-night golf break. More than a third of these breaks (35 per cent) are group bookings of 8-12 people.

Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Budapest-based golf advisory practice, said: “Our survey shows there is price sensitivity in the market and the popular destinations of Spain and Portugal have had to reduce their prices to maintain competitiveness. The quality of the golf courses is the most important factor for a consumer when choosing a destination, but the package price is now almost equally important.”