The International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) is the largest travel trade fair that brings together representatives of the golf community for four days: sellers and buyers of a tourist golf product. Participants make appointments in advance and conduct them in work shop mode. As a result of the meetings, contracts are concluded, future deals are outlined, trends for the upcoming seasons are determined, and the best directions are awarded.

The best destinations in 2019 were selected: Costa del Sol and LogroƱo La Rioja (Europe, Spain), Dominican Republic (Latin America, Caribbean), Scottsdale in Arizona (North America), Fr. Mauritius (Africa, countries of the Indian basin), Hua Hin in Thailand (Asia).

And what about Russia? We are gradually entering the global golf market and are already making progress. For example, GORKI Golf & Resort was nominated for “Best Service 2018” following visits from World of Leading Golf mystery shoppers.

In addition to GORKI Golf & Resort, representatives of the Zavidovo Golf Club PGA National, Moscow Country Club, united Peterhof Golf Club and Forest Hills went to IGTM, whom we asked to answer a number of questions about the prospects for the development of the Russian direction in the global golf market.

GM: Does the world community have any interest in the Russian golf market?

Margarita Pospeshnaya (golf club Zavidovo PGA National): There is interest as to a new direction, but the operators still have many questions and doubts about the availability of sufficient infrastructure in Russia to receive tourists with such a focus. Also, many people find it difficult to obtain visas.

It is difficult for international operators to predict the demand for a golf product in Russia, but they all agree that golf trips to our country should be combined with visits to famous attractions.

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): To maintain interest and create an attractive image of our country as a golf destination, competent PR and the creation of a brand “Russia – new golf travel destination” are needed. It should be a joint project that will include all golf related tourism facilities.

Unfortunately, today clubs interested in cooperation with international markets promote their services on their own.

GM: Are Russian golf clubs ready to receive foreign guests today?

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): I will say about the clubs in St. Petersburg and Moscow – yes!

The quality of the fields, the developed infrastructure, the level of service are highly appreciated by our foreign guests. In some ways, we even anticipate the expectations of our foreign clients. As a confirmation, I can proudly say that GORKI Golf & Resort was nominated in the Best Service 2018 category.

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Margarita Pospeshnaya (golf club Zavidovo PGA National): Definitely ready!

Most Russian clubs, including Zavidovo, have already created an excellent recreation infrastructure: various options for accommodation, meals, training and play. For example, in Zavidovo there are more than 500 rooms, there are 3 *, 4 * and 5 * hotels, there are many activities in addition to golf – yachting, fishing, a bathhouse, a water sports academy, a well-equipped forest park. With the opening of a section of the new M11 highway, it will be possible to get from Sheremetyevo Airport to Zavidovo in just 45 minutes.

GM: What unique product can Russian golf clubs offer a foreign golfer?

Anna Ovchinnikova (Peterhof Golf Club and Forest Hills): This product has not yet been formed: each club is trying to sell itself as expensive as possible, while a golf tourist buys a package offer, a certain golf tour, which must contain a game of at least 3 golf courses, hotel accommodation, transfer. And here we begin to compete with the promoted countries – Turkey, Spain and others, in which a similar package costs 350 euros.

It will be much more expensive for a foreign golf tourist to come to Russia to play golf. Therefore, it is necessary to form a joint package, laying in it special prices for green-fi with all clubs, while leaving a margin for tour operators, who must have an interest in selling us and including in their offer.

Therefore, first we should deal with adequate prices for golf and accommodation and then fill it with the standard cultural program of the two capitals.

Margarita Pospeshnaya (golf club Zavidovo PGA National): In this area, golf clubs need to cooperate with each other and also with local tour operators, the so-called DMC (Destination Management Companies).

In Russia, literally every first golf course is unique and is of interest to a golfer, even if he is spoiled for playing on famous courses.

A weekly package may include a game on two or three fields, visits to Moscow and St. Petersburg, meals in local restaurants – so that you can feel the Russian flavor.

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): Our uniqueness is combined with the richest cultural component and identity of Russia as a whole.

The annual growth in the number of foreign visitors to Russia speaks for itself. Our task is to tell everyone that there is golf in Russia.

Unfortunately, many travelers who visit Russia as a tourist do not have the association that here in Russia one can visit golf courses of the European level. Moscow may be an exception here, but other cities are for sure. In St. Petersburg we are constantly faced with this, although we already have 4 golf courses in the region.

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GM: Has the attitude of foreign markets changed against the background of the deterioration of Russia’s reputation in the world?

Margarita Pospeshnaya (golf club Zavidovo PGA National): I do not think that the latest political news will strongly influence the perception of the country by tourists.

On the contrary, major sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup have brought about positive changes in this area – many have attended the Championship and realized that traveling in Russia is safe.

We had several groups from Iceland and Italy who visited Russia for the first time and are already planning to come next season.

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): There are countries where the population is really very influenced by the political situation. This influence is experienced by many sectors of the economy and tourism, unfortunately, is no exception.

However, golf tourism does not belong to a mass destination, so a client looking for new opportunities for recreation will choose trusted partners. I’m sure.

GM: Which countries do you think would most like to go to Russia to play golf?

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): Based on the results of this season and the interest from partners at IGTM 2018, these are Asian countries, Finland, Estonia, Germany, France, Great Britain.

GM: According to research by IAGTO, the growth in sales of tour operators, which is 8-9% over the past 3 years, may decrease by 5-6% in 2019-2020. How will this affect the Russian golf market?

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): Considering that our market is new and growing, then these figures are not about us. Foreign golf operators are just eyeing or testing our market.

Margarita Pospeshnaya (golf club Zavidovo PGA National): The Russian golf market is still so small that one should not expect any critical changes, on the contrary, I think our tourism market will grow. But this, of course, directly depends on the activities of the golf clubs themselves and government support in this area.

GM: How many golfers, according to your forecast, can come to Russia and your club in 2019? in 2020? in 2021?

Anna Ovchinnikova (Peterhof Golf Club and Forest Hills): It strongly depends on the development strategy of the direction.

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If the clubs get involved in active work, then in 3 years we will be able to receive from 5000 tourists to the club.

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): I can only say about my club. With the expansion of the infrastructure and the opening of the hotel, we are experiencing an annual increase in foreign guests at the resort. Today, all conditions have been created for the game and comfortable rest of our guests.

In terms of numbers, the increase in the number of foreign guests at GORKI Golf & Resort was more than 50%. In order to maintain these indicators in the next 2-3 years, we need to build a marketing strategy to attract new international customer markets together with Russian golf clubs and DMC operators in Russia.

Margarita Pospeshnaya (golf club Zavidovo PGA National): So far, it is difficult to give any specific figures – work in this direction is just beginning. For example, in 2018 more than 200,000 people visited the Zavidovo resort, but the percentage of golfers among them was not that great. We will work to improve both indicators.

GM: How many foreign golfers are there in your club now? How many are club members and how many guests?

Olesya Radchenko (GORKI Golf & Resort): This season, GORKI Golf & Resort was visited by about 700 foreign golf tourists, mainly from Finland, Estonia, China and other countries. As for foreign members of the club, they are representatives of Finland, Japan, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Egypt and India.

Margarita Pospeshnaya (golf club Zavidovo PGA National): We have several members of the expat club who live and work in Moscow, otherwise, of course, they are guests. In 2018, we hosted golfers from Sweden, Iceland, Italy, Czech Republic, China, Korea and Vietnam.

Thus, according to the representatives of the clubs, we see positive trends and potential interest of foreign golfers in our country.

The only thing left to do is to form a product, negotiate prices that are favorable for all players and enter the world golf market with it, gradually creating a new tourist destination.

But the most difficult thing, in our opinion, is to create such internal rules of the game so that the process is transparent and understandable for its participants. To make sure that all parties respect and respect them, only then can we talk about the possible success of the project “Russia – new golf travel destination”.

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