Asia Golf Tourism Convention 2021 heads to Japan

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After a one-year hiatus, IAGTO announced its ninth edition of the Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC), which will take place in the Japanese prefecture of Miyazaki from 20-22 April 2021.

Roughly 10 years ago, Japan realized that the Tourism industry is one of the important drivers for the Japanese economy. The initial plan was to increase foreign visitors to 20 million in 2020, a target which  was already met in 2016! So, the government revised its goal to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030, which was incredibly ambitious. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made inbound tourism a keystone of Japan’s future growth, understanding that the travel and tourism sector accounts for 7 percent of Japan´s GDP.

In 2018, Japan hit a new record of 31.2 million visitors. Yet after years of dramatic growth, Japan’s tourism numbers plateaued a bit in 2019. The stagnation was almost entirely due to a decline in South Korean visitors, which stemmed from a trade war between Japan and South Korea. This year, the prolonged coronavirus travel bans have brought Japan’s tourism industry to a standstill, with a 99.9 percent fall in tourists in April!

It was just a few weeks ago when the government’s latest domestic travel boosting policy was put on hold in a debate over transparency and cost, causing a lot of tourism businesses to struggle even more. That´s why the announcement of this Golf Tourism Convention in Kyushu Pref was a strong message at the right time, signaling a light on the horizon to Japan´s stifled tourism industry.

Now, it´s up to the private and public tourism sector in Japan to get well prepared in order to leverage this convention. Having had the pleasure to work with the Japan Tourism Industry for a while, I am confident that everyone will work together – across the boundaries of prefectures – and speak with one voice internationally. In order to fully leverage the opportunity a strong message and compelling value propositions need to be defined and communicated, unique products customized to the different markets need to be developed and tools & structures need to be provided to enable the golf tour operators properly. Prequalification of tour operators attending AGTC are key to save money and time. Furthermore, a coordinated golf tourism strategy needs to be defined as the convention can´t just be a stand-alone event. The effective implemention of this strategy will not only maximize the ROI on the convention but also guarantee a lucrative and sustainable new business segment on the long run.

TOPICS: Courses and Travel, Golf, Golf Tourism Development Tags: , , , , ,

ABOUT: Evelyn Gruber

Evelyn has passionately dedicated her life to serve the global golf tourism industry. She has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and built an amazing global network within this vertical in the past 26 years. The Austrian native founded her first golf travel business in the mid 90's. By implementing an innovative shop-in-shop concept with Europe´s leading golf store, Evelyn was able to grow her business into Austria´s largest golf tour operator before selling it in 2008. Since then, this passionate visionary has continued to work in golf tourism, albeit more on the consulting and coaching side to assist public and private tourism sectors succeed in the lucrative golf niche. This niche is the most profitable one as golfers spend 2.5. times as much as leisure tourists. In addition, it trumps with strong ancillary benefits and has proven to be the most resilient and sustainable vertical in crisis. On top of everything else, numbers of golfers - including youth golf - have been increasing significantly during the current pandemic. As a truly global citizen, Evelyn calls Europe, the US and Asia her home, as she has been commuting between these three continents for the past 15 years. This has helped her tremendously to develop a unique global understanding of the geopolitical business dynamics as well as the macro and micro-environment in the various markets, which she applies effectively when boosting international tourist arrivals & tourism spending for destinations. The Austrian is most likely one of the best traveled living golfers in Europe, having played more than 2000 courses in 89 countries in Europe, Australia, North America, Africa and Asia, including most of Golf Digest´s Top 100 Ballot Courses outside the US and Rolex 1000 Ballot Courses worldwide. Considered a leading expert in her field, Evelyn has also stayed in 1000s of hotels, and worked successfully with both private & public sector in global golf tourism. She understands the USP and value propositions of destinations and knows how to smartly communicate those to the most valuable target audiences in select key markets. Evelyn has a Masters degree in Sports Management, English & Business Administration and holds two diplomas for International Marketing from Harvard Business School. She still dedicates 3 hours a day to grow her skill-set and raise her standards. A strong background combined with expertise & connectivity is fundamental for success. It is, however, Evelyn´s dedication & passion that make her approach unrivaled. You will quickly notice that Golf Tourism is in her blood!

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