Golf courses chasing tourists

SHARE

YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

More international tourists are coming to New Zealand to play golf than ever before and the benefits are extending to the wine sector, recent tourism figures show.

The figures, from Golf Tourism New Zealand’s recently released fourth golf tourism progress report, showed the number of golfing visitors to New Zealand had increased by 17% compared to 2015 numbers. Tourists played 32,000 rounds at marquee courses.

They also tended to stay an average of 11 days longer and spend more compared to other activities.

The average spend by an American golfer was about $19,000 compared to an average $3900 by all holiday visitors.

In addition, about 41% of international visitors who came to New Zealand to play golf also chose to visit wineries and cellar doors.

Tourism New Zealand director of marketing Andrew Fraser said the growth rate for golfing tourism was among one of the highest being experienced worldwide.

“International golfers deliver millions to the economy each year, staying significantly longer and spending more than the average visitor,” Mr Fraser said.

“Nearly half of the golf visitors that come our way are incorporating vineyard experiences into their stay and this represents a huge opportunity for industry to further tap into.”

He said they were working closely with NZ Winegrowers to amplify the wine tourism experiences that are on offer and look at opportunities for further wine product development.

Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn announced last year he had plans to build an 18-hole golf course and 100-section property development on a 58ha site near the park, to cater for the increasing demand from golfing tourists who come to the region.

Alexandra Golf Club’s administrator Dai Johns said he had a group of 12 South Koreans playing on Tuesday morning, and the trip was part of their annual visit to Central Otago.

He said the group came to Central Otago every year at this time for a month-long golfing trip, and had stayed in Cromwell to play, but this year they decided to spend two weeks there and two weeks in Alexandra.

He said playing on courses in Alexandra and Cromwell was about half the price of playing in Queenstown.

“They are drawn by the price and it is more affordable for them, so it works for everyone.”

He said the club was trying to promote Alexandra as a golfing destination but it was not easy attracting people away from Queenstown.

We also get the odd Australian and American playing here,” he said.

Group spokesman Kim In Sik said the group were alumni of the Seoul National University and some of the players had been coming from between five years and 12 years, every year at the same time.

“We enjoy the golf and people are very kind,” Mr Kim said.