I firmly believe that there is a huge and untapped opportunity in Italian golf tourism. Hence, I thought to ask the Founders of Italy4golf about how they want to boost the inbound golf tourism in Italy.
What kind of potentials do you see in Italy as a golf tourism destination?
The potential of golf tourism in Italy is certainly very high, but unfortunately still today Italy is not considered a golf destination, although it is one of the most visited countries in the world and attracts millions of tourists every year for the beauty and variety of its landscapes, its culture, and its food and wine.
Starting from this datum, it is possible to make Italy an attractive country for international golf tourists:
- There are about 230 golf courses in Italy (including nine-hole courses) inserted in magnificent variegated landscape contexts, from the sea to the mountains, and with an important history behind both at a competitive and foundation level.
- In the past, the Golf Club Milano hosted eight editions of the Italian Open (1951-1952-1956-1981-1984-1990- 2015-2016).
- The Acqua Santa Golf Club is an Italian golf course located along the Via Appia in the southeast of Rome and was built in 1903.
- In Italy, the practice of the game of Golf began in Florence in 1889 thanks to the large English colony that built an 18-hole course on the land of the Demidoff Princes north of the city. In 1934 the beautiful course on the hills at the gates of Chianti was inaugurated and the glorious Ugolino Golf Club was founded which since then represents Golf in Florence.
- The Circolo Golf Venezia has welcomed almost 90 years of games into its holes, starting its history in 1928 and since then remains the only course in the Venetian capital, still recognized as one of the best in Italy.
- Golf Bogliaco is one of the oldest courses in Italy. Founded in 1912, with the Golf of Rome Acquasanta and the Circolo Golf Menaggio & Cadenabbia on Lake Como, it is one of the oldest golf courses in Italy.
- The proximity of golf courses to cities rich in history and culture, to give some examples:
- in short distance from the center of the city of Milan there are 6 golf clubs with 18 holes and one with 27 holes;
- In Lombardy, there are 30 golf courses, 18 holes and more some of them designed by great champions like Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.
- In the surroundings of Florence, it is possible to play on 4 magnificent 18-hole courses.
- In total in Tuscany, there are 13 fields designed by famous architects, such as Robert Trent Jones Jr. In Rome, you can play a short walk from the historic center in 7 golf courses, all with 18 holes, including the Marco Simone Golf Club which will host the 2022 Ryder Cup.
- Opportunity for golfers to experience a universe of food and wine and social experiences deeply linked and diversified according to the territory.
To give an example, in our proposal for all-inclusive golf-brakes in Italy (“Italy4golf Experiences”) we offer to the golfer (and to the non-golfers that are traveling with him) premium and exclusive activities linked to each region.
In the North, in Franciacorta and Garda area, we set up visits and private dinners and wine tasting to prestigious and ancient family wineries, but also in beautiful castles or in private villas.
We also organize trips on board of an ancient sailing boat on the Garda Lake and much more.
In the last Experience we create in Tuscany, specifically for ladies, we set up visits to worldwide famous artisans and artists atelier, golf clinics with golf champion held by an international women’s golf champion, shopping in high-end boutiques. We thought about organizing even a Pizza-making Class to learn how to make a real Italian pizza at home.
Anyhow, it is important to consider that Italian food, culture, history, art, and people change in every city, even in the city one next to the other!
How was the idea of Italy4golf was born? Who are the investors?
Italy4golf is an innovative start-up company founded by Alberto, Fabio and Mario in 2018.
In 2017 while having marketing consultations with hotel facilities that also involved a few golf courses in Lombardy.
Mario realized that they need to cooperate better to obtain enough power of communication and to offer their clients services that could reach their interest.
Still, in 2017, Alberto, a golf player and long-time friend of Mario, had the chance to play golf abroad and when he came back to Italy he realized that differently from the places he visited.
During the working days, the Italian golf courses were less occupied and everything was concentrated in the weekend.
So the idea came out matching the considerations emerged from meetings with people working both in hospitality and golf business: being Italy a major touristic country that attracts millions of tourists every year for its culture, art, food, panoramas, beaches, etc.
How was it possible that this great incoming flow couldn’t match the international golf tourism?
That’s how we thought of a network and synergy that could help golf facilities and tourism resources in working together so to offer the international golfer a new way of golfing holidays.
Our project was welcomed with enthusiasm by both tourism operators (Italian and foreign) and the golf world.
Subsequently, strategic collaborations were activated with selected local Tour Operators for the creation of special and innovative tourism proposals that could attract the international golfers not only to the golf playing but also with exclusive activities:
- a new kind of golf-brakes that draws the attention of foreign tour operators specialized in golf tourism, especially in Center-North of Europe and in the USA.
How do you want to help the Italian golf tourism industry?
First and foremost, by supporting the collaboration between Italian golf and tourist actors to create a network capable of obtaining greater visibility for the foreign golfer, as well as offering gaming and living solutions that facilitate and improve his golfing experience in Italy.
This is accomplished in various ways, starting from the mapping of all the Italian golf courses and the geographically nearby tourist possibilities, with thousands of points of interest (food and wine, cultural, historical, artistic), up to the customized tour package for the group of golfers.
The collaboration with Italy4golf can certainly give some important business opportunities to all those who participate:
- Golf clubs have the opportunity to be better known abroad thanks to our competence and strategy. This would be very difficult for them both because they lack the skills and because of an economic discourse;
- Local Tour Operators can expand their business with new customers who may decide to return to Italy tomorrow without even wanting to play golf;
- And customers, golfers, have the opportunity to consult in detail all the facilities (golf courses, hotels …) that are part of our “Experience” of travel.
Through the Italy4golf portal, which basically puts all the players in the network online and therefore exploits economies of scale, it is possible to have that visibility that they would not reach individually.
What makes Italy4golf unique vs other similar initiatives?
Certainly, the approach to foreign golfers potential customers. The proposal of Italy4golf is strongly connected to the idea of ”experience” that the golfer can do in Italy.
This is fully reflected in the “Italy4golf Experiences“, tailor-made holiday solutions in which the international golfer can experience and experience in an exclusive manner the best of Italy from a cultural, gastronomic and golfing point of view.
In fact, all the Experiences share:
- All-inclusive solutions;
- Extra premium activities;
- Hospitality & food from 4-star quality upwards;
- A variety of challenging golf courses;
- Attention paid right down to the finest detail.
Another thing that distinguishes us, at least in the Italian scenario, is the communication and promotion strategy of Italy4golf services.
We try to establish collaborative relationships with international partners such as tour operators related to golf practice, but also international golf clubs, bloggers and influencers, all subjects that can promote our solutions directly to the golfer-tourist.
Last but not least, personalization! We think it is one of the most interesting drivers in the latest marketing strategies of every company worldwide, and it is getting increasingly relevant also in golf tourism too.
Italy4golf gives you the chance to get exactly what you are looking for: starting from the possibility to build up your own visit in Italy by yourself through our website, choosing the golf courses but also hotels, restaurants and touristic points of interests geographically related.
The same happens when you are interested in a more structured golf-brake: our network can provide you tailor-made solutions that can seriously enrich your vacation:
- at all levels,
- meaning area,
- timing and length of your stay,
- number of golfing days/golf clubs,
- kind and level of accommodation/restaurants,
- up to the premium activities (e.g. visits, experiences, tastings, classes, clinics, personal shopping programs, etc.).
What are your plans for the coming 3-5 years?
We believe that the 2022 Ryder Cup in Rome will be a key opportunity for the Italian golf industry and its evolution, and therefore also for our project.
In the coming years, we will work to continue to network and promote the Italian golf-tourism system abroad, so as to pave the way for all golfers who want to come to Italy for the 2022 Ryder Cup and to fully take advantage of this important event visibility.
How do you want to integrate into the global golf tourism industry eco-system?
Our proposal is not only an alternative for the Italian golf tourism and industry, but also for the global golf industry.
In the international market, there are golf packages that offer almost only the game, perhaps even on different courses, but nothing more: the player at most relaxes in the resort.
Our idea of a “golfing holiday” is much richer, much more varied in terms of the proposal and with a clearly better value for money.
This peculiar approach comes directly from our knowledge of the Italian potential in terms of touristic offer.
In fact, having tight relationships with local golf tour operators gives us an extraordinary advantage both in terms of price and quality of what we are proposing.
That’s why our golf-brakes are so customizable and have such premium and exclusive activities at an affordable price.
If you were to plan your holiday in details, no matter the country, not knowing where is better to go, to play, to eat, to sleep and so on, you will surely spend a lot of time doing research and a lot of money, even if very probably not getting the best solution, nor your preferable one.
The others say:
“You can choose this or that”, we say “Here is an example of what you can get: have a look, get in touch and we’ll build your golf-brake on your wishes”.
Will the 2022 Ryder Cup make any change in the inbound golf tourism in Italy?
Surely the 2022 Ryder Cup is an opportunity for the Italian golf system. In our opinion, it is a chance to abandon some old mechanisms and approach a more international vision.
The Ryder Cup will bring thousands of foreign golfers to our Country. However, only operators and institutions will be able to show why having a golf vacation in Italy is much more than just playing golf will have a good chance of producing a change in the future.
In other words:
Italy can’t become a new Algarve or a new Scotland for international golfers, but there’s no point in trying to compete with them on their levels.
It is better to be different, alternative and authentic, to promote and sell ourselves for what we are and what we can offer, not just because it’s a smarter selling strategy, but because Italy already has its own strong identity, rich, varied and loved by many people around the world.
This article is brought to you by Italy4golf.