A major international marketing campaign is being launched to boost the profile of New Zealand as a world-class golfing destination for tourists.
Tourism New Zealand announced today that it would be investing up to $2 million over the next three years promoting the country's golf courses overseas.
The crown entity aims to lift the spending of international golf tourists by $78 million - from $145 million to $223 million - by the end of that investment period.
It earlier this year set up a working group, which includes professional golfer Greg Turner, to develop a long-term strategy for golf tourism in New Zealand.
The group has just released its Golf Tourism Strategy Report, which identified the sector as having strong potential for growth.
"The findings are that New Zealand is a distinctive, but largely undiscovered destination for golf enthusiasts, despite the significant investment that has already occurred in quality infrastructure," said Tourism New Zealand spokesman Justin Watson.
Watson said the strategy identified countries such as Australia, North America and China as being key target markets.
It also recommended the establishment of North and South Island Golf Trails.
The campaign would involve running advertisements in golfing magazines and on golfing websites, as well as increasing New Zealand's presence at major trade and retail shows.
Watson said another focus would be on bringing international media to New Zealand, who would hopefully return home with a better understanding of the country's golf offering.
Working group chairman Greg Turner said New Zealand could boast to having the most golf courses per capita in the world.
"In recent years there has also been an enormous investment in both existing and new facilities that will meet the needs of golf tourists, resulting in an outstanding opportunity to grow this highly valuable sector of the tourism industry," Turner said.
The working group has also recommended that an industry advisory group be set up.
New Zealand Golf Tourism (NZGT) would look at alternative funding streams and support from the golf sector and other beneficiaries of golf tourism spend.
"NZGT would fill a vital coordination role between the golf courses, regional tourism interests and the international marketing effort," Turner said.
The golf strategy comes as part of a wider approach by Tourism New Zealand to draw more high-value visitors to the country and increase revenue from the sector.
Other core markets identified as 'special interest' include honeymooners, business groups and cruise-liner tourists.
The golf working group and Tourism New Zealand will soon be taking the strategy on the road, running a series of industry meetings throughout the country in late September and early October.