Teeing up the €300m return of golf tourism to Irish shores

Pre-Covid, golf brought €300m annually to the local economy in Ireland. Pent-up demand from 2020 to 2021 suggests the golf tourism pipeline is strong.

This week more than 80 golf industry suppliers from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland descended on the Slieve Russell Hotel Golf & Country Club  in Co. Cavan for the first in-person Golf Tourism Convention in two years.

The stakes are high as golf tourism brings €300m annually to local economies across the island and pent up demand signals a roaring return.

“Golf is seen as a fundamental lever in driving Ireland’s tourism industry back to pre-Covid performance levels and beyond”

The gathering was organised by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland.

The event was part of Fáilte Ireland’s efforts to drive greater demand for golf tourism in 2023 and beyond. International buyers attending this year’s convention represent some of the biggest producers of golf business as well as those with the most potential to grow golf tourism into Ireland.

They have been selected from core golf tourism markets and emerging markets, including the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands. Tourism Ireland, who promote Ireland as a holiday destination overseas, are also in attendance at the conference. 

Driving golf tourism

“With Ireland’s world-class golf product, experienced Irish based golf buyers and a motivated, capable industry, golf tourism will play an important part in supporting tourism to rebound quickly,” explained Martin Donnelly, Golf Tourism Development Manager at Fáilte Ireland.

“In 2019, Ireland welcomed over 221,000 visitors whose primary purpose of travel was a golf holiday, and they spent €300m in the local economy,” said Martin Donnelly, Golf Tourism Development Manager at Fáilte Ireland.

“As such, golf is seen as a fundamental lever in driving Ireland’s tourism industry back to pre-Covid performance levels and beyond. Due to pent up demand from 2020 and 2021, our golf tourism pipeline is very strong for this year and that looks to continue into 2023.  However, Ireland will continue to rely on tour operators based overseas to support us in communicating the benefits of travelling to Ireland to play golf amongst their clients and that is why this Convention is such an important platform in growing their understanding of what Ireland has to offer.”

The two-day trade event kicked off today with a golf tournament at PGA National accredited Slieve Russell Hotel Golf & Country Club. The full day workshop will take place tomorrow and will facilitate over 1700 face to face meetings between Irish suppliers and international tour operators. 

Following the two-day convention, the tour operators will be brought on a familiarisation trip to experience some of the best courses in Ireland right across the island’s four programme brands, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin. 

International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) chief executive Peter Walton added: “After two years apart, this week’s Golf Tourism Convention and associated inspection trips will be instrumental not only in getting both sides of the golf tourism industry back together again, but also in showcasing the significant investments and developments that have taken place or are underway throughout the country.

“The convention represents a unique opportunity for hotels, golf courses and other golf tourism industry suppliers to get in front of leading decision makers from golf tour operators from all key markets who are responsible for driving golf tourism to Ireland. Business will be signed and customer experience will be enhanced, as a direct result of the interactions this week.”

Main image: Pictured at the Golf Tourism Convention in Slieve Russell Hotel & Golf Resort, Co. Cavan were Peter Brazil, Limerick Travel; David Jordan, Golfkings; Martin Donnelly, Fáilte Ireland; and Georges Muller, Sphinx Travel GmbH. 

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.