This year’s votes were polled from IAGTO‘s 700+ golf tour operators in 63 countries. To be honest, I was not surprised that the Algarve received the most votes and the prestigious Golf Destination of the Year Award.
This was the third time that the Algarve won the European Golf Destination of the Year title (2006, 2014).
As I have already mentioned in my previous post, the Portuguese golf resorts are following and exploiting the latest tourism trends (e.g. wellness tourism, gastronomy, wine tourism, sustainability, etc.) with great success.
We have to accept the fact that golf tourists will not be content with regular golf holidays as in the past. They are hungry to spend money on memorable experiences.
I will elaborate on this idea later on in this post.
The above-mentioned innovative approach can help golf destinations to attract more golf tourists and their families too.
IAGTO members also voted for the top 15 golf destinations (in alphabetic order):
- Abu Dhabi
- Algarve (Portugal)
- Coastal South Carolina (USA)
- Costa del Sol (Spain)
- Cote d’Azur & Provence (France)
- Dominican Republic
- Fife (Scotland)
- Lisbon Golf Coast (Portugal)
- Marrakech (Morocco)
- Monterey County (USA)
- New Zealand
- South West Ireland (Ireland)
- Tenerife (Spain)
- Western Cape/Garden Route (South Africa)
IAGTO unveiled a new category of Experience Awards, where one golf course and one hotel in each of twenty-five countries were recognized.
I will only highlight my favorite golf resorts and hotels who were among the winners of the Experience Awards:
- Monte Rei Golf & Country Club (Portugal)
- Finca Cortesin (Spain)
- Yas Links Abu Dhabi
- Albatross Course – Le Golf National (France)
- Hotel Camiral at PGA Catalunya (Spain)
- Adare Manor (Ireland)
- The Els Club Teluk Datai (Malaysia)
- The Oitavos (Portugal)
The importance of sustainability is slowly getting more attention in the golf tourism industry as well.
In 2020, golf resorts and clubs must be prepared and committed to sustainability. Many golf tourists care about ethical and sustainable golf tourism.
Aphrodite Hills Golf Resort wins the overall award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainable Golf while Minthis Resort wins the Resource Efficiency award.
Dubai’s Jumeirah Golf Estates and Spain’s PGA Catalunya Resort win the Community Value and Nature Protection categories respectively.
I hope more golf resorts will follow their great examples. Here are some other great examples of eco-friendly golf resorts around the globe:
- Tara Iti Golf Club (New Zealand),
- Royal Wellington Golf Club (New Zealand),
- Costa Navarino (Greece),
- Gleneagles Resort,
- Hoiana Shores Golf Club (Vietnam),
- Royal Portrush,
- Arabella Golf Mallorca,
- Dom Pedro Golf (Portugal)
- Troia Golf (Portugal)
- Terre Blanche (France).
IAGTO Awards & golf tourism trends in 2020
We are still not the end of this year, but I would like to share with you my golf tourism trend expectations for 2020:
- Golf tourists will look for secondary golf resorts to avoid the negative effects of over-tourism. This is why I recommended in June to discover the less-known Portuguese golf resorts and clubs.
- Local tourism will be as important as the golf experience available at the golf resort. This means golf tourists will look for golf resorts that offer all their favorite activities + sights near each other.
- Bleisure golf travel will gain momentum.
- Artificial Intelligence – should be utilized to personalize the experience of finding and booking golf tours and golf trips.
- Virtual Reality – golf resorts should exploit this technology solution on their website to show to their future guests what kind of experience is available at their resorts. The Italian Toscana Resort Castelfalfi used this technology at the IGTM in Ljubljana in 2018.
- Co-creating your golf travel experience is a new phenomenon in the global tourism industry that is also relevant to the golf tourism industry as well. Golfer tourists will want also to be more active in the creation of the golf holiday experience.