The 21st edition of International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) kicked off with messages of optimism for the golf travel industry and the event itself from Nick Pilbeam, Divisional Director at Reed Travel Exhibitions, organisers of IGTM, and Peter Walton, CEO of IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators).
Pilbeam’s opening address touched on the current excitement and energy at Reed for IGTM – the world’s premier global event for golf tourism suppliers, buyers and media – with new leadership in place from one of the company’s most successful portfolio directors, as well as a whole new event team.
He also demonstrated how IGTM has delivered on the feedback it gained in 2018 from interviews with past exhibitors and buyers, such as adding speed networking sessions, returning the evening programme and improving both the buyer and exhibitor mix at the event significantly.
Pilbeam said: “The industry is strong, optimistic and growing, and IGTM remains energetically at the forefront of bringing stakeholders together to support that growth across the globe.
“We have 30% new buyers this year, with double the number of buyers from Asia, as well as brand new Luxury and MICE segments. We also have 50 new exhibitors, and new products from the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
“Our focus for the future will be to continue successfully delivering new buyers to the event, as well as creating innovative new features that will drive value for the golf tourism industry.”
Walton then announced record membership in IAGTO, which in 2018 for the first time exceeds 2,700 companies, with a geographical network now spanning more than 100 countries.
In his remarks, he provided a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at how IAGTO is using its global reach to gather the clearest and most up-to-the-minute intelligence that the golf tourism industry has seen in its history.
Walton said: “Using methods ranging from our self-completed Golf Tourism Audits to our ‘60 Second’ Quarterly Surveys, over 900 of our member golf tour operators, golf resorts, golf courses and hotels participate to provide a handle on the direction golf travel is taking at any given moment.”
Based on the current state of the market, IAGTO projects that the high growth of golf tour operator sales seen over the past seven years (8-9% per year) will reduce to 5-6% over the three-year period 2018-2020.
This reduction, however, will be due to demand exceeding supply in some of the most popular golf destinations during peak months, rather than any market downturn. Therefore, industry optimism remains high.
Walton also announced the launch of IAGTO Golf Tourism Certification for Golf Directors and General Managers of Golf. From 2019, this certification will provide accreditation for individuals who have demonstrated a keen understanding of the golf tourism industry and established profitable working relationships with tour operators.
The four-day IGTM event is being held at The GR Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ljubljana and sees more than 400 pre-qualified buyers and tour operators, as well as golf industry experts come together in Slovenia’s capital city.