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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 11:52 GMT
Scottish golf drive for Chinese
China is already home to the world's biggest golf complex
A new drive to attract golfers in China to play on the top courses in Scotland has been launched.

Golf has become a boom sport in China and the number of courses there is expected to almost double this year.

First Minister Jack McConnell said he admired China's growing love of golf, but said "a golfer who never plays in Scotland is a golfer unfulfilled".

Chinese tourism could be worth about 70m to Scotland over the next four years, it has been estimated.

Restrictions on Chinese tourists travelling to the UK were removed last year.

Target market

The move to attract golfers on the back of this has also been supported by tourism body Visit Scotland.

British Airways has teamed up with three Chinese golf travel partners, offering stays at courses including St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Mr McConnell said: "The whole world is trying to target the massive Chinese tourism market that is opening up.

"We need to play to our strengths and golf is certainly one of them. The sport is hugely popular in China at the moment and I know that a trip to Scotland will appeal to many Chinese golfers."

'Fantastic' facilities

Tourism from golf, played by 57 million people worldwide, is worth 300m to the Scottish economy.

Visitors to Scotland's golf courses, of which there are more than 540, spend on average twice that of other tourists.

The first minister said: "There is something special about playing at the home of golf. The Chinese have a strong attachment to traditions and history and I know that the birth place of golf will hold a very strong appeal."

In 2005 the UK was opened to Chinese tourists with Approved Destination Status and the World Tourism Organisation has predicted that tourist trips from China will increase to 100 million by 2020, creating a market worth more than 100bn.

The British Airways package, which offers three, four and five night stays, aims to attract the Chinese business elite and executives.

St.Andrews Old Course Hotel and Rusacks Hotel have also signed up to the deal.

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