Destination Golf - September 2016 * - Page 25

ce at ual rts, f wth over DG: How is the global golf holiday sales market faring in the face of all the current economic uncertainty? Have terrorism fears affected the market much? PW: Of course, golf travel is not immune to those global events that have a negative impact on tourism, from economic crises to safety concerns, from natural disasters to health scares, but golf tourism time and time again bounces back quicker than any other sector of the travel industry. Quite simply, avid golfers will not be denied their golf travel fix! What we have seen reported now over two downturns during the past 16 years is that while the number of bookings may not drop significantly during difficult economic times, the group size does get smaller and is therefore a good indicator of the state of the market. DG: How does 2016 compare to previous years? Is the industry in robust health? PW: The global golf tourism industry has enjoyed four years of consecutive growth (2012-2015), at rates substantially higher than those experienced by general leisure tourism. This trend has continued through the first six months of 2016 but after some really significant strides that saw golf tour operator sales grow by 30-40% since 2011, we expect the rate of growth to slow somewhat but remain consistent and sustainable DG: What is 2017 looking like? Are there any noticeable trends emerging? PW: Forward bookings as of 1st July were up again year on year so the coming winter-sun golf travel season of the Northern Hemisphere, which runs from October to April, is looking good. It is too early to judge next year’s summer season but we expect long-haul bookings to be very strong and short-haul will depend on many factors including both the weather and exchange rates. We expect Spain, Portugal, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Vietnam and South Africa to perform strongly, with the USA seeing a strong growth in Asian golf visitors and the UK attracting more visitors from all markets due to attractive exchange rates, while Ireland should hold its own and maintain its recent gains. online technologies and emerged with at least as great a market share as they had in the brochure age, which was a surprise to many. On average, 52% of golf vacations are booked through golf tour operators, and this percentage increases the farther a golfer travels and the less familiar the golfer is with their chosen destination. Golf tour operators themselves have impacted the market dramatically by offering great short-break deals that are ea H[[\YB[HZHX[H[ܙHY^\[\\^H[]BۙH][\KYHHX\Hو[[ܙX][YHۈٙ\Έ\H\][[ۙ\\[\ZH\YY^\”ΈX\Hو][]X\[[\ܝ[X܂[HܛوۙZ][][ H[HوZ\ܘY\[^\HܜH܈H][\\]\\[˜[[ܙX\Y\وHY\][]H[[\[][ۈ[[YH܈H\[وBܛوۙZ][\[][ۜ\ؘXH[ܙB[\XYHH]Z[X[]Hو\XY[X[B[YH 8(\YH BB