IS TOURISM GOLF’S FU­TURE?

Last month, New Zealand Golf Mag­a­zine (NZGM) asked “Is Tourism Golf’s Fu­ture?” This came af­ter NZGM at­tended the TRENZ Tourism Show, New Zealand’s largest an­nual busi­ness-to-busi­ness travel and trade event, run by Tourism In­dus­try Aoteroa (TIA).

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Con­tin­u­ing on from last month, we look at trends in golf tourism.

June’s ar­ti­cle was based on what we found out at TRENZ and ex­plored how golf is po­si­tioned in the New Zealand Tourism in­dus­try and how some of our re­gions were look­ing at grow­ing golf tourism. In this sec­ond part to our re­port, we will be talk­ing to lead­ing play­ers in NZ golf tourism to find out what the trends are in Golf Tourism and from where we are get­ting these golfers.

Last year, New Zealand Tourism sent out a press re­lease ti­tled “Record golf tourism hits a hole in one”. This re­lease con­tained in­for­ma­tion about strong growth with golf vis­i­tors up a record 23% along­side an 18% in­crease in spend by these vis­i­tors for the year end­ing April 2016. It high­lighted an im­pres­sive $329 mil­lion NZD be­ing pumped into the econ­omy each year from in­ter­na­tional golf tourism. Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of IAGTO (In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Golf Tour Op­er­a­tors), Peter Wal­ton, said the growth in golf vis­i­tors to New Zealand in the past year is a great ex­am­ple of what can be achieved within a rel­a­tively short space of time when a na­tional tourist board in­vests in golf tourism pro­mo­tion and, most im­por­tantly, is guided by a sus­tain­able golf tourism pro­mo­tional strat­egy.

One year on and New Zealand Golf Tourism Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Ryan Braden­burg, re­cently stated that in the 2017 calendar year, rounds of golf played by in­ter­na­tional golfers across 14 spe­cific mar­quee cour­ses were up 9% on the pre­vi­ous year, and up 43% since the strat­egy was launched in 2014 (ap­prox. 35,000 rounds) and close to an­other 40,000 rounds across the 24 ex­pe­ri­ence cour­ses. The Asian na­tions lead the way for this growth with rounds of golf from China up 37%, Ja­pan up 2% and the rest of Asia up 51%. Golfers from Amer­ica, con­sid­ered the most ma­ture golf mar­ket in the world, spend a stag­ger­ing $19,000 NZD per per­son while they are here for a golf­ing hol­i­day.

Tourism is cur­rently the No.1 ex­port earner for New Zealand. It con­trib­utes $36 bil­lion to the econ­omy ev­ery year, of which $14.5 bil­lion comes from over­seas vis­i­tors. Golfers hap­pen to be the high­est spend­ing of these vis­i­tors, stay­ing 27-nights ver­sus 16-nights for an av­er­age vis­i­tor, and spend­ing $4,800 ver­sus $3,900 for the gen­eral tourist. Golfers also are the most sat­is­fied of any group tracked, rat­ing their New Zealand golf hol­i­day a 9.3/10.

New Zealand Golf Mag­a­zine talked with the fol­low­ing Golf Tourism ex­perts to get their views on three key ques­tions as they re­late to their busi­nesses and fa­cil­i­ties. Our ex­pert panel con­sisted of: Jon McCord (JMC:), the Di­rec­tor of Golf for The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and The Farm at Cape Kid­nap­pers; Gor­don Dal­gleish (GD:), cur­rent Pres­i­dent of Per­ryGolf, a large in­ter­na­tional golf tour op­er­a­tor; John Grif­fin (JG:), the Gen­eral Man­ager of Golf at Jack's Point in Queen­stown and Shel­ley Dun­can (SD:), Di­rec­tor of Golf at the Otago Golf Club in Dunedin, New Zealand's old­est golf club.

1. WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEE­ING WITH GOLF TOURISM?

JMC: We have seen mas­sive growth in the past five years. The in­ter­est in the coun­try and its golf cour­ses has been driven by a com­pli­ment of of­fer­ings and a trend we've seen de­velop: that it's not only about the golf! New Zealand is not a stand-alone golf des­ti­na­tion, it is a multi-faceted des­ti­na­tion that of­fers spec­tac­u­lar scenery and sight­see­ing, in­cred­i­ble food and wine of­fer­ings from North to South, and a wide range of ac­tive pur­suits that com­ple­ment the coun­try's golf of­fer­ings per­fectly. GD: Speak­ing with re­gards to the out­bound USA mar­ket, it re­mains very buoy­ant as the econ­omy and stock mar­kets do well, cou­pled with a rel­a­tively strong dol­lar. The more af­flu­ent trav­ellers are seek­ing great golf ex­pe­ri­ences. In the last six to eight years, we have sig­nif­i­cantly grown our “cou­ples busi­ness” as com­pared to the tra­di­tional “boy's trips” to Scot­land and Ire­land. As a re­sult, our longer haul des­ti­na­tions, such as New Zealand have enjoyed a healthy in­crease. JG: Growth out of Aus­tralia is con­tin­u­ing to de­velop year on year since the in­tro­duc­tion of direct flights into Queen­stown in the early 2000's. Cur­rently, this group rep­re­sents around 65% of vis­it­ing golfers. The qual­ity of the three pre­mium cour­ses in the re­gion are the cat­a­lyst for this growth, cou­pled with good club golf ex­pe­ri­ences in Ar­row­town, Queen­stown, Cromwell and Wanaka. “Fly and drive” is very pop­u­lar along with golf spe­cific trans­port providers who of­fer an ex­cel­lent ho­tel to golf re­turn trans­port sys­tem for vis­i­tors, along with in­ter­na­tional tour com­pa­nies who give clients a reli­able, pas­sion­ate golf ex­pe­ri­ence whilst in the re­gion. Queen­stown, of course, is blessed with won­der­ful ac­com­mo­da­tion, restau­rants and qual­ity night life and en­ter­tain­ment, winer­ies with ex­cep­tional food op­tions, nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and great shop­ping; all within walk­ing dis­tance of ho­tels and trans­port providers. SD: We are see­ing an up­take in travel num­bers, both off the cruise ships - with an in­crease in ships com­ing to Dunedin, plus we are also see­ing an in­crease in “free­dom trav­ellers'' who are look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive to Queen­stown. As a club, we have at­tended the IAGTO con­fer­ence in the Philip­pines in April this year and are re­ceiv­ing some book­ings from that ex­po­sure.

2. AF­TER AUS­TRALIAN GOLFERS, WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG­GEST MAR­KET AND HAS THIS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 5-YEARS?

JG:

The in­ter­na­tional mar­ket has fluc­tu­ated in the past 20 years, with the main vari­ables be­ing play­ers

from Asia now dom­i­nat­ing the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket. Num­bers are still low, in terms of the over­all playing num­bers, say 8% in to­tal; Ja­pan has a long his­tory of golf and vis­i­tors from Ja­pan have a very good un­der­stand­ing for the game, Korea is fast be­com­ing well­recog­nised as a golf­ing na­tion with many of the world's best play­ers and the Chi­nese golf­ing mar­ket is de­vel­op­ing. The USA/Cana­dian mar­ket ap­pears to be build­ing again. Over the past 5 years, it has be­come our next strong­est mar­ket with around 7% of to­tal playing rounds; this mar­ket is very golf savvy along with the UK/Ire­land mar­ket which is much smaller due to long haul travel. SD: We have no­ticed an in­crease in golfers from North Amer­ica and Euro­pean coun­tries over­all. Again, the cruise mar­ket is bring­ing a lot of in­ter­na­tional golfers to Dunedin from a va­ri­ety of coun­tries.

JMC: At Cape Kid­nap­pers and Kauri Cliffs, more than 50% of our to­tal golf for the year comes from North Amer­ica. This is our largest mar­ket by far! We have al­ways had a great fol­low­ing in the U.S. and Canada, es­pe­cially with flight con­nec­tiv­ity con­tin­u­ing to im­prove. This will only make New Zealand a more at­trac­tive and ac­ces­si­ble des­ti­na­tion. While we have seen great growth in the North Amer­i­can mar­ket - it has al­ways been our most pro­duc­tive, Asia is a mar­ket that holds amaz­ing po­ten­tial. Over the past eight to ten years Asia has been a strong fo­cus as golf across the con­ti­nent is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar and more ac­ces­si­ble. Here too, flight con­nec­tiv­ity and in­ter­est in golf and “eco-tourism” has driven steady growth, year over year. GD: Our fo­cus has con­sis­tently been out­bound US golfers, although over the last five years, we have seen an up­turn in Asian, South Amer­i­can, Cana­dian and South African golfers trav­el­ling with us. The in­ter­net has per­mit­ted us to reach golfers who ap­pre­ci­ate su­pe­rior ser­vice, re­gard­less of their coun­try of origin. It also makes it a more com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place which un­ques­tion­ably helps the con­sumer, with more choices and op­tions. →

3. WHAT DO YOU SEE HAP­PEN­ING IN GOLF TOURISM IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS? GD:

We are con­fi­dent that de­mand in the cou­ples seg­ment will con­tinue to grow nicely. Golf cruises serve a niche which is ex­tremely loyal when they ex­pe­ri­ence con­sis­tently high ser­vice lev­els. For the out­bound US mar­ket, Scot­land and Ire­land will for­ever be the des­ti­na­tion mar­ket lead­ers, but New Zealand has a lot of op­por­tu­nity, par­tic­u­larly if first class, ac­ces­si­ble golf cour­ses can be de­vel­oped around hubs, as we have seen in Queen­stown.

SD:

With a lo­cal per­spec­tive, I hope that with the in­vest­ment that our club is put­ting into mar­ket­ing it­self and the stan­dard of golf cour­ses in Dunedin, that we will all im­prove our vis­i­tor num­bers and golf ex­pe­ri­ences for vis­i­tors to our city. Dunedin has a lot to of­fer out­side of golf with our great wildlife and her­itage. It is rel­a­tively easy to book ac­com­mo­da­tion and our city is not too big. As I re­fer to it, we are a “10-minute city”; you are only 10 min­utes away from ev­ery­thing you want to see and do!

JMC:

In the up­com­ing five years, I see the in­ter­est in golf tourism con­tin­u­ing to grow, al­beit at a slower rate. The last three years, have seen tremen­dous growth. How­ever, with the in­ter­est New Zealand has gen­er­ated from not only a ‘golf tourism' per­spec­tive but also from a ‘gen­eral tourism' point of view, I see rounds con­tin­u­ing to in­crease. A big part of see­ing con­tin­ued growth, is the fur­ther devel­op­ment of golf of­fer­ings within the coun­try. With the open­ing of re­cent cour­ses such as: Tara Iti, Win­dross Farm and Wainui, and with some ex­cit­ing projects in the pipe­line, this will only boost New Zealand's al­ready ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion as a golf des­ti­na­tion. Ex­cit­ing times ahead!

JG:

I be­lieve this will con­tinue to grow as NZ con­tin­ues to be recog­nised glob­ally as provider of qual­ity golf ex­pe­ri­ences in iconic des­ti­na­tions. Our rep­u­ta­tion in Aus­tralia will con­tinue to de­velop, as more Aus­tralians look at Queen­stown and NZ as a great hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion. It is seen as an easy ac­cess al­ter­na­tive to hol­i­day­ing in Aus­tralia be­cause of the out­stand­ing land­scape and mild sum­mer tem­per­a­tures com­pared to Aus­tralia, with a great range of ac­tiv­i­ties all in close prox­im­ity. With three or four new cour­ses in the Queen­stown/Cen­tral Otago re­gion due to start con­struc­tion, this will only boost our brand as NZ's num­ber one golf­ing des­ti­na­tion and will re­ac­ti­vate those who have vis­ited Queen­stown on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions to re­turn to take on the new chal­lenges whilst en­joy­ing past favourites. The fu­ture is very bright, as Queen­stown has the ca­pac­ity to con­tinue to pro­vide a qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ence.

You can see that there has been a lot of growth in the sec­tor with new tourist mar­kets emerg­ing. With some of these ex­cit­ing views about the fu­ture of golf tourism in New Zealand in mind, next month we will be talk­ing to our golf tourism lead­ers about the Gov­ern­ment's role in in­vest­ing in golf tourism. This should be of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to everyone con­nected to golf (and that in­cludes not only golfers, golf clubs, and cur­rent well-known golf des­ti­na­tions but also our po­ten­tial new cour­ses of in­ter­est, in­clud­ing unique un-tapped des­ti­na­tions) es­pe­cially re­gard­ing the re­lated ben­e­fits for the coun­try with the pre­dicted tourism num­bers show­ing a pro­jected growth of over 100,000 vis­it­ing golfers by 2024.

↑ Jacks Point Golf Course, Queen­stown.

Kauri Cliffs Golf Course, Matauri Bay.

(T-B) Ar­row­town Golf Course. Win­dross Farm Golf Course, Pa­pakura, Auck­land.

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