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Gillian Marles reports
"Golf tourists spend three to four times as much as ordinary tourists"
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BBC Scotland's David Allison
"In terms of golf's potential as a magnet for tourism, the picture is not rosy"
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Henry McLeish, Enterprise Minister
"There is a tremendous opportunity to make things much, much better"
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Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Monty chips in for tourism
Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie is backing the campaign
A major strategy has been launched to encourage more people to come to Scotland to play golf.

Europe's top golfer, Colin Montgomerie, is backing the campaign to raise the country's profile abroad.

The initiative follows a rough few days for the Scottish tourist industry after figures revealed a fall in the number of foreign visitors.

Montgomerie, currently ranked third in the world, teamed up with Enterprise Minister Henry McLeish at the Standard Life Loch Lomond Invitational tournament to launch the new drive.

Scotland is the home of golf, five out of the eight open championship golf courses in the UK are in Scotland

Henry McLeish
Scotland is not exploiting its huge golfing potential compared with its neighbour Ireland, which is said to be 10 years ahead of the game.

Mr McLeish said: "I think golf tourism is a sleeping giant. But this campaign gives us an opportunity to focus on a particular product.

"I am pleased Colin Montgomerie has agreed to launch this with me to make sure that these assets, which are world class, are exploited.

"It is about national self-confidence. Scotland is the home of golf, five out of the eight open championship golf courses in the UK are in Scotland and there are 500 public courses throughout the country.

'Forward looking'

"There is a tremendous opportunity to make things much, much better. We can't dwell on the past, but new self-confidence and new marketing, not only aimed at golfers of the world, but families and children, will work."

Colin Montgomerie, preparing to take part in the tournament, said: "We've sort of rested on our laurels.

McLeish at Loch Lomond
Henry McLeish: "Golf tourism a sleeping giant"
"In saying, oh well, yes we are the home of golf, and that's fine, we'll rest on that one and concentrate on something else.

"Well, unfortuntately, that hasn't worked for us and we've got to push it more than we have in the past."

Experts estimate that golf tourism is worth about 100m to the Scottish economy, but they say more visitors could be encouraged to choose Scotland for a golfing holiday.

North America will be the main target for the initiative.

As well as highlighting the benefits of Scotland's major courses, the scheme will stress that a round on one of Scotland's 500 public courses will "not leave a hole in visitors' pockets".

The new strategy aims to:

  • Develop new marketing campaigns from a 500,000 budget supplied by the Scottish Tourist Board.

  • Invest in business development through a further 400,000 from Scottish Enterprise and 250,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

  • Focus on attracting more women and children to courses.

  • Establish regional golf development groups to improve the service to visiting golfers throughout Scotland.

  • Improve the industry's market intelligence by researching golf markets and golf consumers.

The Scottish Tourist Board's annual report last week revealed that visitor numbers and spending dropped to their lowest level for four years.

The report showed there was a fall of 11% in visitor numbers, while spending by people who do venture to Scotland was down by about 13% - equivalent to 123m.

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See also:

07 Jul 00 | Scotland
Tourist trade takes a 'pounding'
07 Mar 00 | Scotland
Activity holidays fall
16 Feb 00 | Scotland
Tourism searches for its niche
16 Feb 00 | Scotland
Ossian is jewel in tourism crown
09 Dec 99 | Scotland
Minister signals enterprise re-think
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