Golf tourism is now worth £286 million to Scotland

By: April 20, 2017

VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise has just revealed their latest study about the contribution of the golf tourism industry to the Scottish economy. The study found that golf tourism is now worth £286 million to Scotland on an annual basis – an increase of £66 million on previous figures.

Scotland golf life

In case, you missed to read the study, then here are the main findings:

  • 47% of overnight golf tourists came from overseas;
  • 30% of all overnight golfing visitors were from North America, while only 14% from Europe.
  • On average, overnight golfing visitors spend on average 6.79 nights in Scotland on their trip, while for overseas visitors the duration jumps to 10.21 on average.
  • Overnight visitors spend on average 7.5 days playing golf while they also average 3.85 days participating in other tourism activities, meaning they are also benefitting non-golf tourism businesses and attractions.
  • On average an overnight golfing visitor will spend £245 per night but this number jumps to £338 for visitors from overseas. For North Americans, this figure increases to £405 per night.
  • The average number of rounds played by overnight visitors was 5.16. Overseas visitors played an average of 7.10 rounds, with visitors from North America playing more rounds (7.80) than those from Europe (4.94).
  • The most frequently cited types of accommodation were hotels (67%) and B&Bs/guesthouses (28%), with 66% describing their accommodation as ‘mid-market’ and 32% describing it as ‘luxury’.

Scotland Gullane 3rd hole

At the same time, Scotland and the Scottish golf tourism industry will have to get prepared for the possible effects of the Brexit.

The British Hospitality Association commissioned from KPMG to gauge the possible impacts of Brexit. They found:

  • The share of EU nationals in the UK hospitality workforce is 25%.
  • The UK hospitality industry has the highest number of vacancies compared to any other industry sector.
  • Hard to fill vacancies are in the areas of chefs and front of house, roles that are reported to be filled by a high proportion of EU nationals.
  • Employers report that they receive few if any applications from appropriately qualified local candidates and that EU nationals tend to have higher educational qualifications, a professional approach and work ethic.
  • The shortfall that would previously have been made up of EU nationals will exceed 62,000 a year. This is in addition to the current shortfall.

How should Scotland tackle with these challenges?

First of all, there should be a joint effort to motivate local people to take a job in the hospitality industry. The second major area is the education and training area. SiteMinder’s Global Hotel Business Index 2017 found (not specific to Scotland or the UK) that hotel staff recruitment and training was the lowest spend area.

To keep up the positive trend in the Scottish golf tourism industry, it is important to:

  • Combine golf experience with heritage and historical industrial tourism.
  • Provide mobile internet access (4-5G) in the most frequently visited areas throughout Scotland. This is not just about helping to stay connected, but also enables golf tourists to share their experience (not just to post photos on Instagram, but also utilize streaming services like Facebook Live, Periscope etc.). (This was one of my biggest pains recently in Turkey at the Histourex last week where the organizers were not able to provide Wi-Fi access during the event.).
  • Embrace the fact that today 33% of the online bookings are made via mobiles and 16% via tablets. Have you got online booking solution?
  • As the importance of health and wellbeing in growing, providing services like spa, yoga or even fitness boot camps are gaining momentum.
  • Influencers are penetrating the travel and tourism space. They are considered as the source of expert information. Hence golf clubs and resorts should invest in influencer marketing as well.
  • As tourists want more seamless stay in a hotel and golf club plus have more privacydigital concierge services are really useful and important. They are definitely considered as an added value service. A good example is the Scottish, Criton mobile application.
  • To provide packages for such middle class families that cannot afford to stay in high-end, luxury hotels such as the Gleneagles Hotel.