By Peter Ellegard | January 2017 | 5 minute read
According to global golf tourism industry organisation IAGTO, international golf package holiday sales are worth around two billion pounds annually, with 87% of packages sold worldwide being sold by its member golf tour operators, who carried 1.9 million golfers in 2015.
“For those agents with the dedication to sell golf holidays there is plenty of commission potential. But golf bookings need not be for dedicated golf trips – an add-on can also earn help agents earn extra”
PETER ELLEGARD, TRAVEL WRITER
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Many specialist operators sell direct. However, some golf operators do work with the trade, offering commission or a net rate for agents. Several general tour operators also offer golf-based holidays and many feature golf resorts.
But golf bookings need not necessarily be dedicated golf trips. They can also be holidays to golf destinations where golf is an add-on.
North America Travel Service Managing Director Ruby Briggs said: “Arizona ticks all the boxes for the golfer as well as those looking for other outdoor activities such as hot-air ballooning, hiking and 4x4 trips and it’s all complemented by the amazing shopping, dining and spa opportunities too. It’s a great destination for everyone. The same is true of other destinations such as California.”
IAGTO golf operator A Golfing Experience is also an AITO member. Director Steve Frewin said: “We have been providing travel agent commissionable golf packages for the past eight years to many fantastic destinations, such as Dominican Republic, Mauritius, Bermuda and St Kitts & Nevis. We provide agents with all the necessary golf booking service, information and quality high-end products to ensure satisfaction and retain the golf clients business that might otherwise be lost to online competitors.”
More than 300 golf courses and a year-round golf climate make Arizona a golfing Mecca. Scottsdale has a host of resorts with golf on-site, among them newly-renovated golf and spa resort The Boulders, with two courses in a desert setting.
Tucson, America’s first UNESCO World City of Gastronomy for its food and wine scene, also has impressive golf resorts, like the Westin La Paloma, with 27 holes amidst mountains and saguaro cacti.
Taking a cue from its neighbour Dubai, Abu Dhabi has developed into a golf destination in its own right and makes an ideal short-break winter golf escape. Besides its uber-luxury hotels and attractions, the emirate offers three championship golf courses in the UAE’s capital city, including the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, part of a Westin resort, and Yas Links, next to the Yas Marina Circuit, home of the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Golfers in South Africa can combine championship golf with a touring holiday that takes in some of the country’s wonders such as Cape Town and Table Mountain, a safari, Johannesburg or KwaZulu-Natal’s Zulu and Boer War battlefields. The country’s golf resorts are world-class and include Western Cape’s Fancourt, Mpumalanga’s Leopard Creek and the North West’s Sun City resort, with two Gary Player courses. Luxury train operator Rovos Rail has two golf-based rail itineraries.
Golfers have been crossing the Channel to play in France for over a century. Among popular regions to tee off in are the Pas de Calais, Normandy, Brittany, Bordeaux, Provence and around Paris, where Le Golf National’s Albatross course will host the 2018 Ryder Cup. Close to Bordeaux, Golf du Medoc Hotel & Spa has two designer courses set among the region’s vineyards.
For a small island, Mallorca punches above its weight as a golf destination, serving up 20 courses close to the capital Palma, in the north and on the east coast. Golf can be played year-round. The new Park Hotel Mallorca, on the island’s quiet north-east, offers guests a complimentary shuttle service to three island courses and has a range of discounts for the trade.
Thailand is attracting increasing numbers of UK golfers, thanks to offering some of Asia’s best golf courses, great-value green fees and hotel rates and high service levels on and off golf courses. The main golf centres are southern resort areas Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket, capital Bangkok and Chiang Mai in the north.
Fast-growing golf destination Vietnam offers top-quality golf amidst stunning scenery along more than 2,000 miles of coast. Danang is spearheading the golf push and now boasts four nearby courses by top names, including the Nick Faldo-designed Laguna Lang Co, with two on-site hotels. Other golf resort developments include The Grand Ho Tram Strip and adjacent Greg Norman course The Bluffs, two hours from Ho Chi Minh City, and the Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort on Phu Quoc Island, in the far south-west.
The Indian Ocean island is a golfers’ paradise. It already has nine 18-hole golf courses with another three set to open by the end of 2018, and several form part of luxury resort developments. Among them are the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita with its Ernie Els course, the Heritage Le Telfair where a second course is being added, the Constance Belle Mare Plage with two courses and Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort with Bernhard Langer’s Ile aux Cerfs island course.
Known as the Golf Capital of the Caribbean and offering 19 international-standard courses, the destination kick-started the region’s golf revolution over 40 years ago with the opening of the formidable Teeth of the Dog course by design guru Pete Dye at Puntacana, with two hotels and 45 holes of golf on two courses.
Golf along the Danube
Sit back and watch the heart of Europe drift past on a Danube cruise, playing some of the region’s top golf courses along the way. AmaWaterways has introduced luxury golf cruises for 2017 in association with golf specialist LGT Golf. The cruises include golf on five courses in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary where European Tour events are staged.