By Marco Polacci*
In November, the 15th International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), an event organized by Reeds Exhibitions exclusively for the golf travel industry, was held in Algarve, Portugal. It welcomed buyers and exhibitors from over 55 countries who conducted business through pre-scheduled appointments and networking opportunities. With more than 300 buyers registered from 38 countries, a 20 per cent increase on 2011, the ratio of buyers to sellers for IGTM 2012 enabled more pre-scheduled appointments to take place generating record business opportunities. Naturally this event is fully supported by IAGTO, The Global Golf Tourism Organization.
Undoubtedly when IGTM is held in Europe, success is almost guaranteed as the majority of European based golf tour operators are prepared to travel to this event when nothing more than short haul and direct flights are requested.
This was another very successful IGTM and considering the economical difficulties throughout the golf travel industry there was no time wasted moaning as could be expected but rather a great working atmosphere was tangible throughout the various halls packed with booths; buyers and exhibitors alike working hard to find new ways to generate business.
Over the years the exhibitor booths have been grouped together under a regional or country corporate image giving way to big and costly decorated stands. It certainly looks nice and tidy but it is not necessary as there is no public to attract as the event is only for professionals and is based on appointments between buyers and suppliers. Considering that everyone is cutting costs, exhibitors from Andalucia were probably the most coherent this year standing out from all the others with no corporate image at all but good solid competitive offers to attract business to our shores.
In general the tour operators indicated that Andalucia is still considered one of the favourite destinations for holiday golfers. During the next twelve months we will hopefully see this optimistic message from IGTM come to fruition with more golfers visiting the Iberian Peninsula. However this does not mean it will be an easy ride. Hard times and hard work lay ahead before we succeed in recuperating our share of the market.
*IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) delegate in Andalucía