Slovenia seen as prime golfing destination at top industry event
According to Nick Pilbeam of the IGTM operator Reed Exhibitions, there are "400 golf product buyers here", 30% of which are new to IGTM: "So, a great opportunity for Slovenia and Ljubljana to promote the wonderful destination".
Golf is on the way to becoming one of the major tourism products in the country, with the number of golfers in Slovenia rising by 20% since 2015, when Slovenia was declared undiscovered destination of the year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO), said Maja Pak, the head of the Slovenian tourism authority STO.
The country is distinguished by diversity, as golf courses lie in Alpine valleys, Pannonian plains and among the vineyards in the south-west, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek added.
Another highlight of this year's IGTM is Slovenia's cross-border cooperation with neighbouring Austria, Italy and Croatia, because "golf travellers do not see borders, they don't see national frontiers. They see the gateway city and where they can play golf on the best courses in that area", IAGTO chair Peter Walton noted.
According to him, Slovenia will be stronger because it has placed itself at the heart of the Alpe-Adria region, "which will become a brand new golf destination".
Another opportunity for the growth of golf tourism in Slovenia is that there are 6,500 registered and around 2,000 unregistered golfers and 16 golf courses that domestic golfers cannot fill.
But "you have to plan for three years in advance, because building a golf course from the concept to the construction takes three years, if you're lucky," Walton pointed out.
At the global level, around 60 million people play golf, of whom eight million are from Europe. On average, they spend more than twice as much as other tourists, with golf itself only representing 20% of their expenditure, he added.