Finally, after so many many months of pandemic driven restrictions and an almost complete ban on anyone intending to travel into Scotland (from outwith the UK) for the purpose of playing some golf on some of our great courses, our duly elected political leaders have now developed a new sense of economic awareness.
Starting last week, travellers from USA and EU are again allowed to arrive in Scotland without having to quarantine on the basis of being fully vaccinated, testing negative within a week of departure date and then produce another negative test on day two of their tour.
Not completely back to normal admittedly but surely a relatively small inconvenience for the opportunity to travel internationally again into Scotland; back again into The Home of Golf.
The tourist industry is such a vital part of the Scottish economy both in terms of contribution to GDP and employment opportunities. The challenge for everyone now is to come back stronger than ever. That means every business wanting to attract key customers has to achieve the highest standard of customer care whilst maintaining a safe environment for both staff and clients.
For the international golf traveller, Scotland remains one of the essential destinations promising the chance to play on many “bucket list“ golf courses including Open Championship venues at Carnoustie, Muirfield, Royal Troon, Turnberry and The Old Course at St Andrews as well as many ancient and modern links layouts such as Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay, Nairn, Gullane, North Berwick, Machrihanish, Gailes Links, Kingsbarns and Dumbarnie. We are blessed with so many superb courses, many of which are mistakenly overlooked by most visitors, but can offer some excellent golf at a vastly reduced price compared to the “big courses”.
So many of Scotland’s small towns rely heavily on a strong healthy golf tourism market with all the financial boost to local bars, restaurants, hotels and shops. We have all seen the numerous reports of many Scottish golf clubs seeing significant increases in new memberships and the severe restrictions placed on prospective international golfers has at least offered opportunities for UK golfers to secure tee times at many of the illustrious courses. However if we are to see all this recent positive news translated into sustained success we have to ensure what we offer is exactly what our highly valued clients want and justifiably expect.
Scottish golf courses will need to be presented in the best possible condition and create a genuine welcoming atmosphere. Similarly our accommodation suppliers will need to deliver the premium guest experience and outstanding hospitality for which Scotland is renowned worldwide. This will be a challenge given the low levels of income generated over the last 18 months combined with the difficulty of recruiting hospitality staff to allow the full opening of so many affected businesses.
Big challenges, big opportunities! Caution allied to a strong positive approach. Scotland needs its golf visitors back and indications are that many of them cannot wait to make the trip. All of us in the Scottish golf tourism industry cannot wait to see you!