Following the success of the first ever virtual International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) in October 2020, organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions, the event organiser is launching another virtual event, IGTM Links (23-25 March 2021). This will be the first official gathering for the international golf travel community in 2021 and another business opportunity to ignite the industry as tourism and international travel prepares for its comeback.
“The COVID-19 pandemic considerably boosted the uptake of golf with many seeing the sport as an ‘escape’, involving acres of outdoor space and natural social distancing. This increase at all levels has been boosted by the Golf & Health Project, with the WHO (World Health Organisation), The R&A, public health bodies, and governments all contributing to promoting golf as a particularly safe sport due to its open-air surroundings, played alone or in small groups. For example, in 2020 there was a 12% increase in rounds of golf played in the US over 2019, this equates to 50 million more rounds. And in Norway, almost 300,000 rounds were booked in May 2020, over double for the corresponding month in 2019.” said David Todd, Event Manager, IGTM.
IGTM’s virtual launch hit a record number of attendees over its three-days with over 1,400 buyers and exhibitors engaging in more than 10,500 one-to-one meetings. IGTM Links 2021 will be hosted via a state-of-the-art online meeting platform, giving the opportunity for 250 golf courses, golf resorts and destinations to access three-days of mutually matched, flexible meetings at a time that suits both the supplier and the 250 attending international golf tour operators. The event will also include meetings with international travel editors who want to hear about the industry’s news for their travel pages coming up during 2021.
“We have launched the second IGTM Links due to overwhelmingly positive feedback received from the industry following our launch event. IGTM Links 2021 is designed to support the next live face to face event that will take place in Wales 18th – 21st October. We know that some participating at the virtual event won’t be at the physical event in Wales, therefore, this is an opportunity and a taster for the live event in October, as well as another cost-effective digital version to help get the industry together during this crucial time.” added Todd.
During the three-day event, there will also be a variety of content sessions including destination presentations and panel discussions from top golf courses and resorts on a global scale as well as panel discussions and research findings on how to forward plan business strategies going forward.
Commenting on her participation at IGTM Links 2020, Leanne Rice from Tourism Northern Ireland said: “Golf tourism is incredibly valuable to our economy so promoting the Northern Irish golf product is very important for us and our industry. It was wonderful that IGTM Links was created, it is an event we have attended for many years, and although it was not the same spirit as the IGTM we are familiar with – with the wonderful networking events and golf tournament, it was wonderful to reengage with golf tour operators from all corners of the globe. It was fantastic to see the interest in golf in Northern Ireland is still very strong and we value the business all golf operators send, and we look forward to meeting the operators and wider golf tourism industry in person next year in Wales.”
Among the 400 buyers that attended IGTM Links 2020 from 43 countries included Melissa Porzak from Protravel in the US commenting: “Although it’s difficult to substitute face to face contact, the IGTM virtual meetings were extremely beneficial to me and my travel business. The seamless connection for my meetings enabled me to engage with suppliers in an easy and effective way. I enjoyed not only learning about the properties or services offered by these suppliers, but also discussing the current travel situation in their prospective location. We shared positive thoughts for the near future when the world will open to all of us again. I am excited that following an IGTM meeting, I am organizing a golf group to the UK for Fall 2021.”