Over the past couple of weeks everyone in the public sector has been talking golf. Mike Cantlay Chair of VisitScotland took time out to do the same with an exclusive interview with the Dundee Courier.
He said that although golf tourism is already worth £220 million to the Scottish economy each year, there is still room to drive up revenues with the Chinese market potentially worth millions and the increasing popularity of golf in China makes it an ideal, and largely untapped, market to target.
He continued, "Scottish tourism is basically a £4 billion industry as a whole. Within that, golf is worth about £220 million pounds. it's very significant. Golf is absolutely key; the Open Championship alone was expected to raise about £84 million and more than that there is around £40 million of TV exposure that comes with it. It showcases Scotland around the world."
Cantlay recently visited China to promote golf tourism and said there has been an explosion in interest there.
He said, "The week before last, the First Minister led a delegation to China to build relationships there and we went out specifically to focus on the golf side of promoting Scotland.
"There are something like one million registered golfers. What is particularly exciting about it is that those Chinese customers who come to Scotland are some of the highest spenders we've got -- tourists are spending even more than American customers, who were traditionally our highest spenders."
He added, "We are just scratching at the market, which will be huge. They are excited about spending time on Scottish courses -- they can't believe the accessibility. The visit included the launch of a new golf brochure advertising Scotland, written in Chinese.
The Chinese market is one that seems to be getting pushed very heavily by the Government and Visitscotland. There is no doubting that it is an emerging market and one that neighbours Ireland have been pushing too but from an industry perspective there seems considerable scepticism that this market is going to contribute greatly for a long time to come.
Any thoughts on the Chinese market ?