Despite the fact that England is home to approximately 50% of Great Britain and Ireland’s top 100 golf courses, it has not enjoyed the luxury or the benefits of having an organization to represent the multi-million English golf tourism industry that exists in the country.
Golf Tourism England’s first aim is to become the recognized body that represents every aspect of the golf tourism industry in England and to take a leading role in the development and marketing of the industry on an international stage.
The new body will also develop, coordinate and implement a range of services and activities that will benefit its members and to ultimately drive forward and expand golf tourism in England.
The launch of Golf Tourism England has met with immediate success with a number of golf travel organisations already on board. Regional golf bodies Visit Kent, England’s Golf Coast and England’s Atlantic Links have all signed up as have golf tour operators Your Golf Travel, Golf Breaks, Leisure Link Golf Holidays, Quality Golf Destinations and Red Tee Breaks. Premier golf clubs and resorts The Grove, The Lodge at Prince’s, Leaderboard Group, Golf At Goodwood, Woburn and Brocket Hall have also shown their commitment to the new organisation.
The overriding feeling of the new members of Golf Tourism England is that an organisation is required to give English golf a louder, stronger voice within the golf industry and that a coordinated approach is required to attract more traffic to the country, especially as golf tourists are known to spend significantly more than any other tourist group.
“Already the positive response by a number of English golf courses, resorts and regional destinations to the establishment of Golf Tourism England has shown that there is strong support for such a body to promote English golf. The quality, history and variety of the truly magnificent golf courses available in England have remained a well-kept secret internationally for far too long and this needs to be addressed,” comments Andrew Cooke, founder of Golf Tourism England.
“For many years now, Scotland, Ireland and Wales have all taken a proactive and coordinated approach to attracting golf tourism into their countries and have clearly reaped the rewards. Golf Tourism England will look to follow suit and ensure that English golf destinations are promoted around the world and so competing for a significant share of the lucrative golf tourism market.”
Factors such as the financial downturn, the surge of golf course construction in the 90s leading to oversupply, falling golf club memberships and reduced numbers attending corporate and society days has hit the domestic golf market putting it under more and more pressure and has led to the formation of a body like Golf Tourism England all the more important and necessary.
Importantly, the new initiative has also been endorsed by IAGTO.
IAGTO’s General Manager, Carlton Carugati, stated, “IAGTO welcomes a consolidated approach to promote golf tourism in England as it is long overdue and hopes that Visit England backs this venture so that the profile of English golf courses can be promoted on the same parallels as Scotland and Ireland at major golf shows and events.”
England’s golf offering is a strong and immensely viable one: it is after all home to over 2,500 golf courses, many of which are widely recognised as some of the finest in the world. It has four courses on the current Open Championship roster with two other courses having staged the event in the past, it has staged The Ryder Cup 14 times over nine different courses and plays host to The European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship.
England also possesses some of the oldest golf courses in the world that boast a rich history and tradition that cannot be reproduced and has over time turned out some of the most illustrious professional golfers in the history of the sport.
The country is one of the most varied golf destinations in the world with its mix of links, heathland, parkland, lowland and cliff-top courses that are complemented by a wide variety of cultural, historical and artistic activities as well as stunning natural landscapes and national parks for outdoor pursuits. It also has communications that are second to none making accessibility to overseas travelers easy and efficient.