Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Tourism drive attempts to hook big-spending overseas golfers

Kauri Cliffs in Matauri Bay, Northland, is among the finest courses in the country. Photo / Supplied
Kauri Cliffs in Matauri Bay, Northland, is among the finest courses in the country. Photo / Supplied

Tourism New Zealand is hoping to double the number of international tourists who come here to play golf as part of a new strategy to attract higher spending visitors.

About 50,000 overseas visitors play golf while they're here and the government agency says the enthusiasts among them spend more than double the average spend by leisure tourists of $2500.

While the number of international visitors continues to grow, average spending has fallen in the past five years.

Justin Watson, general manager marketing communications for Tourism NZ, said golf had been identified as a priority special interest sector because of the number of high-value travellers it attracts and its strong potential for growth.

"Golf is a popular international visitor activity. New Zealand has always been fortunate to have among the most golf courses per capita anywhere in the world.

In recent years there has also been an enormous investment in both existing and new facilities resulting in an outstanding opportunity to grow this highly valuable sector of our tourism industry."

Golf visitors fell into two categories, those who come here for a holiday and play a round and those who come specifically to play and have a holiday on top.

Watson said Tourism NZ would target the second category.

They travelled throughout the country and spent on commercial accommodation.

Most came from Australia, the United States and Asia - specifically China - and these countries would be the target of the campaign.

Marquee courses including Kauri Cliffs in Northland, Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay, The Hills at Arrowtown, and Jack's Point in Queenstown, were popular as was the next tier down.

"A lot of places in the world have good golf courses but what New Zealand has to offer is not only the environment that they are set in, but also the amazing breadth and accessibility of other courses."

Watson said there were about five million potential golf tourists in the target markets. A working group led by golfer Greg Turner would formulate a long-term strategy which would include promotion overseas - perhaps using an international golfer - but also look to ensure courses are geared up sufficiently.

- NZ Herald

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