Golf tourism in Ireland: Strategic impact and potential - A framework for success

Peter Bolan, Michael Crossing, Tom Cotter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Golf tourism has been valued at some US$20 billion with over 50 million golf tourists travelling the world to play on some of the estimated 40,000 courses (Hudson & Hudson, 2014). Ireland is in a prime position to capture a larger slice of this lucrative market due to an excellent golf product in terms of courses and venues, the extremely high profile of the country’s top golfers and an ever-increasing portfolio of events (particularly with the Open set to return to Northern Ireland as early as 2019). Compared to other types of tourists, golf tourists spend significantly more on their vacations and are a prime tourist market to target. Key objectives were to examine the previously unexplored field of golf tour operator activity on Ireland’s links golf courses, to determine its economic value. Further, to evaluate if the economic impact of golf tournaments in Ireland is being properly and fully leveraged for maximum success. Survey research with golf tour operators (76 operators across 19 countries), 22 in-depth interviews with Golf club Secretary Managers and club professionals throughout Ireland, observational research during the Irish Opens 2010, 2011 (at Killarney) and the 2012 tournament (Portrush), content analysis of social media during the events and a survey conducted post-event 2012 with 30 retail-focused SME’s from the north coast region. The economic impact of links golf would appear to be considerably under-valued across the island of Ireland. Golf tour operators play a noteworthy role in delivering high spending golfers particularly North Americans, on whom there is an apparent over-reliance. Factors which require serious and urgent attention if golf tourism is to be properly developed include air access routes. A complete review of the economic impact of golf tourism needs to be undertaken as a matter of priority to establish whether, pro rata, the marketing and promotion of golf tourism in Ireland is under-funded. Mistakes are being made around key tournaments (such as the 2012 Irish Open) which result in substantial revenue spend being lost by businesses within the region. If leveraged properly however, this form of tourism can bring job creation, new business development, urban and coastal regeneration, improved quality of hotel/restaurant provision and improved image as a tourist destination.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherLetterkenny Institute of Technology
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 11 Jun 2015
Event11th Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC) - Letterkenny Institute of Technology
Duration: 11 Jun 2015 → …


Conference11th Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC)
Period11/06/15 → …


  • golf tourism
  • event management
  • Northern Ireland
  • economic impact


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