Royal Portrush Golf Club.
THE Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Ireland from both a health and economic perspective.
It has decimated a multitude of industries, with inbound golf tourism in particular bearing the brunt.
While domestic golf in Ireland has managed to navigate its way through Covid, incoming golf tourism has simply not been feasible.
As a result, incoming golf tour operator’s business is on a knife edge, with the entire 2020 season wiped out and the outlook for 2021 uncertain to say the least.
The Ireland Golf Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) is calling on government to provide financial support to assist in keeping its businesses open.
IGTOA represents 16 incoming golf tour operator companies and, together with ITOA (Incoming Tour Operators Association) and AIPCO (Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers), this sector directly employs 1,100 people and is responsible for €700m in revenues, and further supports 20,000 jobs.
Additional spend by customers represents a multiple of this number.
According to Marty Carr, CEO of Carr Golf, one of the founder members of the IGTOA: “Revenues are down approximately 97% this year and could be down 80% on pre-covid numbers in 2021.
"The Tour Operators are unlikely to see any meaningful return to business until 2022, while operating costs will remain to manage rescheduled trips.
"Along with two years of lost revenue, it will take several years to build back up our businesses.
"There is a very real danger many of our members will have to close their doors unless immediately supported. If IGTOA members do not exist, international golf tourism will disappear.”
The IGTOA are calling on support across three key areas:
* Reinstatement of the Wage Subsidy to €350 per week through end 2021 to stem significant redundancies
* Direct Grant support/survival scheme through Fáilte Ireland for Inbound Tour Operators to enable companies to deal with deferred travel arrangements for their thousands of customers scheduled to travel in 2021, but now likely to defer to 2022.
* Marketing Support through Tourism Ireland to support sales and marketing activities in International markets.
Across the world, the game of golf is soaring with busy timesheets, rising equipment sales and increased club memberships. It has huge potential as a sport and as an industry, and Ireland has a unique product and highly regarded reputation. Incoming golf travel will play a significant role with respect to Ireland’s international tourism recovery.
Therefore, it is vitally important to protect this industry, which supports hundreds of jobs across Ireland’s rural and urban communities.