Among the European Tour Destinations receiving support to attend was Le Golf National, which was assessing opportunities to connect with golf tour operators in Asia and tap into new markets.
Paul Armitage , General Manager of Le Golf National, venue of the Open de France, a Rolex Series event and The 2018 Ryder Cup, believes establishing a footprint in Asia will yield long term rewards for European resorts.
He says, “In recent years, more and more golfers from the likes of China, Japan and Korea have visited Le Golf National, but we’ve never looked to develop that further.
“The Korean market, in particular, is a huge opportunity for us, which we’d totally underestimated. With so much Korean interest in the Evian Masters, opportunities exist to attract those attending the event to our world class venue, something we’d never previously thought about.”
So, were Asian golf tour operators interested in sending their customers to European destinations?
“The tour operators were keen explore opportunities in Europe but it was a case of who do we work with and how do we work with them? So, the convention was a good meeting point to pick up on this,” explains Paul.
“In the case of France, the golf tourism market has been too insular for too long. Now it’s been propelled onto the world stage thanks to The 2018 Ryder Cup, new, young companies are forming to take care of foreign guests. But these companies are not well known, so tour operators in Asia are still left with questions about which ones to trust or partner up with.”
What other learnings did Paul and other European Tour Destinations take away from the event?
“Clearly, the opportunities are there, though clearly they should be rationalised against a wider business plan,” he says. “Asia will not be a ‘quick win’ for golf destinations, it’s more about establishing a footprint on which to build over the medium and long term.
“The fundamentals are there; demand, pricing, availability. Approached in an effective way there is a ready and willing market to tap into which will benefit both individual destinations and surrounding regions, too.”
Did the trip to the Asia Golf Tourism Convention yield results for Le Golf National and other European Tour Destinations?
“The presence of European Tour Properties certainly created interest and prompted discussion, which demonstrates the importance of the brand,” says Paul. “On a practical level, we may not have attended without the support of the network.
“For Le Golf National, it was encouraging that all 37 appointments we had were requested to us, which is an indication of the appetite of Asian golf tour operators. This provided us with a captive audience we could talk to and discuss ways of working together.
“We didn’t attend the convention with major commercial aspirations, but we came away with a number of new accounts, opportunities and a different perspective on the market entirely.”
Manila, Philippines, has been announced as the next host of the Asia Golf Tourism Convention. The event takes place April 22-25, 2018.