Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Stats say Scottish Golf Tourism is Buoyant... So it must be true

We've just got the press copy through from the EventScotland site on a few things golf. Here's a list of the key bullet points.
  • The Open at St Andrews is on track to deliver an £80 million benefit for the Scottish economy, it was announced today. (Sports Industry Research Centre Sheffield)
  • Leading US based golf tour operators have reported that 2010 sales for Scotland up to June have risen 49 per cent against the same period last year.(VisitScotland)
  • The Open is expected to generate £35 million for Scotland in visitor spending and £45 million in place marketing effect through over 3,000 hours of global television coverage, a 35 percent increase on last year's event.
  • Initial reports from Chinese tour operators show they are expecting to exceed their revenue targets from Scotland tours following a ministerial visit.
Mr Salmond said: "This is a great time for golf in Scotland. As one of the world's greatest golfing nations and the home of the game, our fantastic courses and scenery continue to provide a draw for visitors across the globe.

"Hosting The Open at the prestigious Old Course on the 150th anniversary of the event could bring in £80 million for the Scottish economy. As the only major staged outside the US, this world class championship is the jewel in the crown of our sporting calendar and continues to ensure Scotland shines on the world stage.

Following on from last week's Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, as we gear up to towards staging five Women's Open Championships over the next decade and hosting the Ryder Cup in 2014 we have a fantastic story to tell. The Scottish Government invests £500,000 in clubgolf, our national junior golf programme, where we are introducing record numbers of young people to the game, with an estimated 41,000 children in P5 set to benefit this year. We are also investing £1 million to support Scotland's most talented amateur players make the transition to the professional game."

As the debate goes on about public sector roles, spending cuts and David Cameron's big society you really have to, given the above, start questioning what role government has in tourism. The statistics produced in every single case above are valueless, they are worthless providing no direction or clarity to the golf tourism sector about the market place.

So leading US based operators are nearly 50% up? Up on what? The worst year ever? How many leading US based operators? 

The Chinese operators are going to surpass their expectations? What expectations? From a zero base?

The Open is going to have an economic impact on Scotland.I have a public sector report from maybe five Open's all saying exactly the same thing with just slightly different subjective numbers based on how many hours coverage and the perceived cost of notionally buying that coverage.

And Scotland spend £500K on ClubGolf. Firstly should they? And secondly is it providing a return across the country. I listened to someone from the SGU say recently that having high profile success at professional level is over rated. Paraphrased I grant you but not by much. If it had been a Scot leading by eight I'm quite sure that the promotional impact of 3000 hours of coverage could perhaps have drowned local golf courses with junior golfers come Monday morning.

I am always conscious that it is easier to criticise than compliment but the problem at the moment is this jolly backslapping makes out that there are no problems and Scottish Golf and the directly related Scottish Golf Tourism sector is gelling and working as a unit with common goals and objectives and the future is hazard free.

Nothing but nothing could be further from the truth and the government and government bodies can only peddle this PR nonsense for so long before disenfranchising the very partners they need to work with.

Members clubs are bereft of waiting lists; junior play is declining in many areas;  golf courses across the country are seeing visitor revenues down as much as 40% on last year; some tour operators are in real danger of going under; hotel occupancies in some key golf destinations are at dangerous levels,;reinvestment is not possible and there is no communications or organisational structure on which to move forward.

How can it be said that this is a great time for Scottish Golf? We have to build the future of Scottish golf tourism on solid foundations built on genuine collaboration (not single route communication) and with recognition of the threats facing the sector.

It cannot be built on sound-bites and meaningless statistics.
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