SCOTLANDDavid Whyte

Scottish Golf Upbeat about the year ahead

SCOTLANDDavid Whyte

Scotland’s golf tourism industry has sent the clearest signal yet that confidence is returning to Scotland’s beleaguered economy. In a straw poll taken at Golf Tourism Scotland’s Gold Standard Awards, industry representatives from the travel, hospitality and golf service sectors were united in their positive outlook for 2010. In a short survey conducted during a glitzy evening in November, golf professionals were asked if they felt more or less positive about the year ahead. The vast majority indicated they had an optimistic view of 2010 with 90% responding positively. Only 8% felt less confident and 2% were undecided.

“We’ve been through a tough year,” said Nick Hunter, chairman of GTS, “but it’s encouraging to see the positivity being taken forward into the New Year. There’s a lot to look forward to especially with the Open Championship being held at St Andrews and celebrating its 150th anniversary. It should be a year to savour.”

One of the reasons for this shift in business opinion is the upbeat predictions for next year’s visitor numbers, especially those from the US which GTS board member Fraser Cromarty said already look positive.

“Going on our 2010 bookings compared to 2009, we see American travellers are coming back,” said Cromarty, whose day job is looking after sales and marketing at Castle Stuart Golf Links. “We’re also seeing a lot more Europeans especially since the Euro is so strong. Indeed, come the New Year, I think we’ll see even more bookings because people are still holding off making their plans for 2010.”

Although Castle Stuart only enjoyed half a season due to its summer launch, next year’s tour operator bookings have already outstripped 2009’s total at the Inverness course. “The tour operator business is a lot more positive than in 2009,” commented Cromarty. It’s going to be an upbeat year and more buoyant than last season.”