Established in 1997, IAGTO's membership comprises 2238 accredited golf tour operators, golf resorts, hotels, golf courses, receptive operators, airlines, tourist boards, approved media and business partners in 98 countries including, at its core, 560 specialist golf tour operators in 62 countries.
It is estimated that IAGTO’s operators control over 85% of golf holiday packages sold worldwide and turnover more than €1.5 billion per year.
California’s desert golf destination, Greater Palm Springs, is set to take the annual North America Golf Tourism Convention (NAC) “to another level” when it hosts the seventh annual event in 2015.
Organised by global golf tourism industry organisation IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators), NAC chalked up its best-ever attendance when South Carolina’s Charleston hosted the sixth annual edition earlier this month and drew a record 360 delegates, including more than 120 golf tour operators from 24 countries around the world.
But next year’s convention is set to be even bigger. “We are going to take the event on to another level after the great success of the North America Convention in Charleston, with the objective of attracting buyers and media from Asia to augment the already record levels of buyers attending from all over the world,” said IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton.
“We will shortly be inviting CVBs and golf resorts from all over the US to attend and we will be expecting 150 buyers including those from Asia.”
Walton added that it would be the first IAGTO event staged in Palm Springs. “I am very excited about taking our members to Palm Springs to experience one of North America’s foremost desert golf destinations,” he continued.
“It will be taking place in a period of the highest growth the golf tourism industry has experienced in the last decade. Golf tour operators will be looking for more and more new destinations because of the upsurge in golf holiday requests, and I expect that level to be even higher this time next year.”
Rick Blackburn, Vice President, Convention Sales & Services, Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he was looking forward to welcoming delegates to the area and to experience its 100 golf courses, and he hoped it would attract 25% more delegates than this year’s NAC.
“Greater Palm Springs has been a huge supporter of IAGTO for many years and we are honoured and very excited to be hosting the North America Convention in 2015,” he commented.
“We are ecstatic about having NAC in Palm Springs. This is a fantastic opportunity for our hotels, golf courses and resorts to showcase the destination. The whole thing about this is to have all these people on your home turf and to get them to see the Greater Palm Springs area. Once they see the beautiful golf courses we have, it will be very easy for them to sell to their clients.”
Blackburn added that Greater Palm Springs had changed over the years, so that even if people attending the convention had been before there would be a lot of new things to see and experience.
“It used to be known for a lot of retirees and Hollywood celebrities – and it is so much more than that now,” he said. “It really attracts the young crowd now as well, so there is a lot for everyone. The cultural scene is pretty vibrant and the nightlife is amazing as well. I think it is going to open a lot of people’s eyes when they see it.
“It is an outdoor playground; there is so much to do outside. We want to highlight the Palm Springs area. We have nine cities in the Greater Palm Springs area and we want to showcase all of them because they are all very different.
“We have big branded golf resorts, lots of boutique properties and everything in between. It is very important for tour operators to see the vast difference in hotels and resorts so that they can build the right trip for clients. We know that after bringing all these tour operators next year a lot of business will be coming to Palm Springs.”
Gary Orfield, Leisure Sales Account Director, the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, said: “I am so excited about NAC coming to Palm Springs next year. There is no way I can sell the destination any better than when people visit. No amount of photographs will justify the beauty of the destination and what it offers.
“It is just a question of getting people to go and then they realise what an exciting place it is.”
NAC 2015 will take place next June. More details of the event will be announced shortly.
South Carolina’s historic city of Charleston was the belle of the golf ball after hosting the largest-ever golf tourism convention in North America.
The sixth annual North America Golf Tourism Convention (NAC), staged by golf tourism industry organization IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators), drew a record 360 delegates.
During the three-day event, more than 120 golf tour operators from around the world had two days of business meetings with golf resorts, courses, hotels, inbound operators and tourist boards from the USA, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean. The convention culminated in a Ryder Cup-style golf tournament between teams representing North America and the Rest of the World on the prestigious Ocean Course at Kiawah Island – host course for the infamous “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup in 1991 and where Rory McIlroy won the USA PGA Championship in 2012. The operators also participated in inspection tours of Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston before and after NAC.
Having revealed that the USA was the fastest-growing golf destination for IAGTO golf tour operators in 2013 in his opening address at NAC 2014, IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton was delighted with the success of the event and the venue.
“Over 4,000 meetings took place between golf tour operators from 24 countries and suppliers from all across North America and the Caribbean,” he said. “On average, more than 50% of the meetings requested by tour operators were with destinations and suppliers that they were not currently selling. The attending delegates were unanimous in saying not only how beautiful the city of Charleston was but also how wonderful it was to have the convention in Charleston.
“Around three-quarters of the 360 delegates had never been to Charleston before. The hospitality of the host destination was exceptional, with the delegates looked after throughout the event with the best food and Southern friendliness. It will definitely lead to an increase in golf visitor arrivals in coming years, as has been the case with the previous five North America Conventions.”
Asia’s largest-ever golf tourism event has been trumpeted as a huge success, with a record 556 delegates from 40 countries attending the third annual Asia Golf Tourism Convention on China’s Hainan Island.
During the convention, more than 200 golf tour operator buyers from over 150 companies in 32 countries met with 290 supplier delegates from 150 seller companies including golf resorts, golf clubs, hotels, inbound operators and tourist boards from 19 countries across the Asia-Pacific region: China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Fiji, Mauritius, India, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Australia and New Zealand.
There were 137 delegates from China alone, with 57 sellers and 80 tour operator buyers. The convention was also attended by 60 media, dignitaries and other invited guests.
IAGTO’s President, Peter Walton, said: “I am delighted with the attendance at only our third annual AGTC. This is one of the few travel trade conventions that attracts more buyer delegates than supplier companies. Altogether we had 556 delegates from 40 countries, which makes it the largest golf tourism event ever to have taken place in Asia.”
Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group and Chairman of the IAGTO China Chapter, enthused: “The third annual Asia Golf Tourism Convention has been an outstanding success on every level and Mission Hills Haikou is delighted to have played such a central role in this landmark event.”
Record attendance for the 3rd Asia Golf Tourism Convention as buyers from all over the world head to China’s Mission Hills
Almost 200 golf tour operator delegates are set to descend on China’s Mission Hills Hainan for the 3rd IAGTO Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC), which takes place next week.
The event, running from 24-27 March, is being held by global golf tourism industry organisation IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour operators) in partnership with the Mission Hills Group and the Haikou government and has attracted 194 golf tour operators from 32 countries - an increase of over 30% on last year's ground-breaking event in Pattaya, Thailand.
The biggest tour operator delegations attending are from China, Australia and Singapore, with buyers coming from countries as far afield as the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Vietnam, the UK and the USA.
IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton said: “The success of the first two conventions together with the appeal of Mission Hills Hainan and the broad spectrum of golf resorts, courses, hotels and other golf tourism suppliers from across the Asia Pacific has driven this success.”
He added: “And on the supplier side, the golf destinations have flocked to AGTC this year because of the access to these buyers and because of their desire to tap into the Chinese market.”
This year’s AGTC has seen 148 supplier companies register for the event from 19 countries including Fiji, Mauritius, Cambodia, Vietnam and India as well as the established destinations of Thailand, Malaysia and host destination China. There are particularly strong turn-outs, representing an increased focus on golf tourism, from Sanya, Jakarta, the UAE, the Philippines and New Zealand.
“We have 62 Chinese golf tour operators, golf planners and specialist golf travel agencies attending,” Walton continued. “We have also provided 12 Chinese-English interpreters this year to team up with individual buyers who may be relatively new to the international opportunities of golf travel'.
The convention begins on Monday, 24 March, with accommodation and social functions at Mission Hills Hainan and two days of appointments at the spectacular ocean-front Hainan International Exhibition & Convention Centre, where over 5,000 business meetings are expected to take place.
IAGTO will be staging its new IAGTO Excellence Awards for the Asia Pacific region at the AGTC Gala Dinner on Tuesday, 25 March. They will recognise the vision and contribution of golf tourism industry leaders (Pearl & Legacy Awards) as well as outstanding achievements of a handful of golf courses which will herald a new direction in certification for IAGTO globally (Diamond and Platinum awards).
The total number of delegates will exceed 450 this year.
With the approach of PGA TOUR event the Puerto Rico Open, the Caribbean island’s tourist office is out to double golf visitor numbers through a campaign to spread the message about the fantastic golf available in Puerto Rico to golfers in key markets around the world.
The island’s annual professional golf tournament takes place in March and is sponsored by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC). Gabriel Emanuelli, Global Sales Director for the PRTC, said: “More than 23,000 golfers came to Puerto Rico in 2013 to enjoy our wide variety of excellent courses - and we have the capacity to double that number, which is now our goal.”
Recipients from South Africa, California, Florida, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Sweden, Costa Rica, Portugal and Dubai have been honoured in the prestigious IAGTO Awards for 2014.
The IAGTO Awards sponsored by Etihad Airways are the official annual awards for the golf tourism industry. The 14th gala Awards evening took place on Thursday 14th November 2013 in front of 1200 golf industry professionals at the spectacular Tarragona Placa De Toros (Bull Ring), Tarragona, Costa Daurada, Spain at the end of the 2013 International Golf Travel Market.
Worldwide golf holiday sales by golf tour operators have grown by more than 20% over the past two years, according to IAGTO, the global trade organisation of the golf tourism industry.
Headline figures drawn from its 2014 golf tourism survey reveal that golf tour operators’ holiday sales globally grew by an average of 11.1% in 2013, on the back of 9.3% growth in 2012 – and sales are continuing to forge ahead this year.
Speaking at the inaugural HSBC Golf Tourism Forum in Abu Dhabi, IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton said: “Not only has the cumulative growth in golf holiday sales exceeded, on average, 21% in two years, but 2014 is set to be the third consecutive year of growth, with bookings taken in January being 14.5% ahead of bookings taken in the same month a year earlier.
South Carolina’s historic city of Charleston will be the setting for the 6th annual IAGTO North America Golf Tourism Convention in 2014.
Gary Edwards, managing director of Coastal South Carolina, described the decision to move the event to the state for 2014 as “a great honour” and he said it would form the focal point of the region’s marketing efforts this year.
China’s tropical golfing paradise beckons as Asia Golf Tourism Convention heads to Mission Hills Haikou in 2014
IAGTO have completed a review of Golf & Spa, looking at how Spa & Wellness offers can be used to increase golf tourism sales and deliver an even better experience for the visiting golfer.
The report highlights the importance of making spa facilities accessible to all golfers and offering discounted golf specific treatments for pre or post round relaxation. The presentation of spa facilities to golfers can have a major impact on their overall experience and their assessment of the venue.
To view the full report please click here (2.3MB PDF). We would like to thank all IAGTO golf resorts, hotels, golf courses and golf tour operators who provided us with information and an insight into this side of the golf tourism market.
The official Press Conference took place for the launch of IAGTO’s 2nd Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC) that will be staged at The Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya, Thailand from 29 April to 2 May 2013.
Image Caption, L-R: Mr Peter Walton - IAGTO CEO; Mr Itthiphol Kunplome - Mayor of Pattaya; Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa - Deputy Governor for Europe, Africa, Middle East and America Tourism Authority of Thailand; Mr Vitaya Khunplome - CEO Chonburi PAO; Mr Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya - Director of Domestic MICE Department Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau; Mr Kullatorn Mesommonta - President of The East Coast Golf Courses Management Association.
AGTC is the largest and most important gathering of Asia’s golf tourism industry. IAGTO will be bringing to Thailand 150 golf tour operators from 35 countries who all sell golf holidays to Asian golf destinations. Over 500 delegates will participate including more than 60 golf resorts, golf clubs and hotels from Thailand.
Just over a year IAGTO's Chief Executive presented a State of the Market address to over 1000 delegates at the end of the year's International Golf Travel Market. Focusing on business practices that will help companies emerge strongly from the economic crisis, the content is just as relevant today. An edited transcript of the presentation is available here to download.
IAGTO members can view the most recent State of the Market address from last November in the members' section of this website along with the accompanying slide show.