Some 20 to 30 percent of regular golfers take a holiday each year with golf as the primary motivation, resulting in a burgeoning golf tourism market.
In 2012, $2bn was earned from golf holiday sales, from more than 1.6 million golfers who travelled – of which 20 per cent came to Africa.
“Golfers love to travel and play in courses all over the world, and Kenya has truly emerged as a favoured destination, hence the need to improve our golf offerings to tap into this new market,” said Rod Taylor, Marketing and Communication Manager Aberdares Golf Estate.
Travel & Tourism contributed Sh448.4bn, or approximately 12.5 per cent of GDP in 2012, and is forecast to rise by 2.2 per cent in 2013, according to the WTTC Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2013 report – with game safaris and beach holidays bringing in the majority of revenue.
But these activities are driven by the tourism high seasons – from mid-June to October and mid-December to February – while March to mid-June and November to mid-December, are periods of low tourism.
However Kenya is yet to tap fully into golf tourism that the IAGTO suggests can extend the high season for destinations, as well as earning revenue from tourism ancillaries, such as meetings and the incentives trade.
“Golf tourists do not necessary follow the seasons, but rather travel to play at their leisure,” said Taylor.
Moreover, “the impact of golf tourism is far reaching. Beyond the increased number of tourists, we are looking at a higher level of clientele with increased spending power, and thus more jobs created,” he said.
The daily spend of golf tourists while on holiday is more than twice as high as that of general leisure tourists, according to IAGTO, whilst a second report by IAGTO says golfers spend an average of Sh270,000 each on the ground – three times the average of other tourists.
Another recent study suggested that more than three-fifths of Chinese golfers spend more than Sh140,000 a year on golf, and more than a quarter spend more than Sh700,000 a year – with many of these golfers combining travel and tourism with golf.
This spending sees a whole new economy begin to develop around golf, with reports indicating that over 1 billion people globally watch golf channels on television compared to a 400million soccer audience.
With the high spend comes presence too, such as destinations with direct flight connections – with golfers not as adventurous as some other travellers. Currently, only one golf course in Kenya has this facility, calling for increased investment in these areas.