National tourism body VisitEngland has praised the early work being done by Golf Tourism England (GTE) to encourage golfing venues to work together at local level to attract more visitors.
While clubs may have historically viewed others in the immediate vicinity as direct competition for green fees and memberships, GTE has highlighted the benefits of a closer and more collaborative relationship.
This strategy has led to the successful creation of ‘clusters’ across the country, such as the Pennines Golf Trail, Suffolk Coastal Golf, The Dorset Heathland Tour and Southern Counties Heathland Tour (click here for a full listing of clusters/tours created by Golf Tourism England).
Combined with building links with local accommodation providers, this has allowed golf clubs which have often operated in isolation, to draw on the collective strength of what each region has to offer the travelling golfer, thus making the proposition of visiting a more attractive one.
James Berresford, VisitEngland Chief Executive, spoke highly of the efforts of GTE in encouraging these closer working relationships. He said: “As a supporter of GTE, it is very pleasing to see that they are gaining the backing of the golf industry by strengthening bonds between clubs at a local and regional level, creating a more attractive product for travelling golfers.
“While some areas may lack an Open Championship host or tour-ready layout, through a combined effort to come together as a ‘cluster’ or golf tour, there is real potential to create golf destinations that offer the very best that England has to offer as one of the world’s longest-established and most diverse golfing nations.”
These comments were echoed by David Joy, Chief Executive of England Golf, the national governing body for amateur golf, which has launched a strategic plan to create a brighter future for the sport. Its aims include creating stronger clubs, increasing the number of regular golfers and halting the decline in club membership.
He commented: “Our relationship with GTE is one of partnership, which complements the England Golf strategic plan, ‘Raising Our Game’. This puts England Golf at the heart of a network of partners, each operating to the benefit of the game and I am delighted that Golf Tourism England is encouraging many of our great golf clubs to adopt a similarly collaborative approach.”
Providing the most attractive proposition for international and local golfers, Joy also went on to explain, is one of the most effective ways for clubs to generate new revenue streams through increased inbound tourism.
GTE Chief Executive and founder, Andrew Cooke, is delighted to see many traditional private members clubs embrace a forward-thinking and innovative approach and he added: “We are now seeing clubs begin to lay the foundations for growth in golf tourism in England for the next 5-10 years.
“If we take the Dorset Heathland Tour for example, which includes incredible courses like Parkstone, Ferndown, Broadstone and Remedy Oaks, we get an impression of the depth of quality and variety that golf in England can offer. It is examples like this that should make people realise just how popular England could become as a golf destination.”
To find out more about Golf Tourism England, visit www.golftourismengland.com.