A research study conducted by Visit Scotland and Scottish Enterprise reveals that the value brought by golf tourism in Scotland has risen by up to 30% since 2008. This in turn means that hosting golf tourists is currently bringing the Scottish economy around £286m a year, a figure which is expected to keep rising in the coming years.
This growth goes hand in hand with the rise in Scotland’s GDP by 6.2% in the same time frame, which suggests that golf tourism might be key in revitalising Scotland’s economy.
The average golf enthusiast currently travelling to Scotland spends around £338 per day during his golfing holiday, whereas its non-golfer counterpart tends to spend less than a quarter of that amount. Since a staggering 47% of tourists coming from abroad are stepping into Scotland in order to play golf, the value it brings to the country is undeniable.
Recent one-off events such as the 2015 Open at St Andrews - which brought to Scotland an estimated £140m, and the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles the previous year - which produced an economic benefit of approximately £100m, have definitely aided in raising the popularity of golf tourism in Scotland. Yet although definitely influential, the vast economic gain caused by major sports events such as these has been measured separately, meaning their added value isn’t part of the £286m golf tourism was already bringing.
Visit Scotland’s chief executive Malcolm Roughead emphasises the major role golf tourism poses in aiding to support the Scottish economy:
“Golf is one of Scotland's unique selling points which resonates with potential visitors all over the world and signifies why we place huge importance promoting Scotland as the Home of Golf to a global marketplace.”
“Our support of international golf events and our global golf marketing activity gives us significant media profile and I am delighted that this is in turn reflected in golf's contribution to the Scottish economy.”
The 2019 Solheim Cup being hosted at Gleneagles in a couple of years is expected to maintain the momentum of this surge in popularity, bringing an exciting new opportunity to attract more female golfers - who are currently only 12% of all overseas golfers visiting Scotland.
‘Driving Forward Together’, Scotland’s golf tourism strategy, has set itself the goal to increase the value of the industry to £300m in the next three years.
Head of tourism at Scottish Enterprise, Danny Cusick, highlights the importance for companies to move quickly now to take advantage of this situation:
“But we mustn't rest on our laurels; we want ambitious Scottish golf tourism companies to capitalise on this upward trend and consider how best they can develop and scale their business to meet the growing domestic and international demand.”