Fife golf operators' concerns over 2022 tourist season as COVID hits travel plans
A round table meeting has been held for golf tour operators across North East Fife with Wendy Chamberlain MP and Nigel Huddleston MP, the Minister for Sport and Tourism.
The meeting included representatives from the Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators’ Association, Elite Golf Transport, Crail Golfing Society and the St Andrews Links Trust.
The meeting followed an adjournment debate in Westminster led by Mrs Chamberlain on support for inbound golf tourism.
During the debate she highlighted the golf ecosystem both in North East Fife and across the UK, and the reliance of the industry on overseas visitors.
Gary Wilkinson said: “The round table discussion gave the Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators’ Association the chance to highlight the ongoing financial concerns businesses continue to face.
"Whilst most of the tourism and hospitality industry re-opens this month the inbound tour operators have no business as quarantine prevents international golfers committing to travel.
“This nervousness is now affecting 2022 sales which are down by 85% meaning three years of massively reduced income. SIGTOA request specific industry furlough extension through to next April and a recovery fund to ensure our businesses are viable and ready to start selling Scotland as the world’s best golf destination.”
Wendy said: “St Andrews is the home of golf, and as the MP for North East Fife I have engaged consistently with golf clubs, tour operators and other providers who rely on international tourism for their livelihoods.
“While everyone has struggled, these organisations have been dealing with ongoing uncertainty regarding the viability of the 2021 season and some operators have been unable to access the support schemes available.
“Having the minister attend this virtual meeting to hear their concerns has given him an insight into the particular issues facing the golf tourism sector, and, most importantly, their suggestions to Government on what interventions would be of most benefit.
"I was also pleased that a representative from the Scottish Government Tourism Emergency Response Group was also able to attend.”