Latest growth goes a fairway to 2020 golf tourism target

As Northern Ireland seeks to harness the economic potential of new tourism trends such as digital, screen and heritage tourism, maintaining a focus on growing its core markets is essential.

As golf participation continues to decline in many established markets such as the UK, recent figures of a 12 per cent growth in golf tourism in Northern Ireland is a good sign for ambitions to establish a £50 million market by 2020.

Latest figures from Tourism NI’s 2017 Golf Tourism Monitor show the economic impact of golf tourism for Northern Ireland to be £39.9 million, up from £35.6 million in 2016.

It’s estimated that there were 123,000 golfing visitors to Northern Ireland in 2017, a 1,000 rise from the previous year. However, the number is significantly less than the 139,300 visitors recorded for both 2014 and 2015.

Non-domestic overnight visitors make up the majority of the economic impact. While the 2017 number of non-domestic overnight golfing visitors (16,900) is the lowest in the past four years, their economic impact (£29.9 million), is significantly higher over the same period.

North America is a key market for Northern Ireland, representing an £18.3 million expenditure by visitors, ahead of Europe, which has an overall visitor total expenditure of £4.9 million. The UK is third in the ranking with £2.7 million. Both the European and UK markets recorded a drop in visitors following on from a large increase in 2016, however, figures show that those who are visiting are playing more golf and staying longer.

Profile: An out of state visitor

• Takes between 1 and 2 golf holidays a year.

• Books golf rounds though an online tee booking website.

• Has previously visited Northern Ireland for a golf break.

• Is impressed enough with the experience to hope to return to the same golf course in the future.

• Intends to visit only Northern Ireland.

• The average out of state, overnight visitor will visit 3 courses on their trip, and play 4 rounds.

• The average out of state, overnight visitor spent £2,228 on their golf break, an average of £253 per day.

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