New Zealand has been named top golf destination in the Asia Pacific region by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators.
The award is given to the country that has delivered a great experience for golf travellers and is voted on by golf tour operators across the globe.
NZ beat off competition from well-established golf destinations including Thailand, Australia and Vietnam to take the award which was announced at the International Golf Travel Market in Cannes, France, in front of an audience of 1300 international golf tourism delegates.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive, Stephen England-Hall, said: “This is a great result and fantastic recognition of the work the industry and Tourism New Zealand have done to showcase the country’s world class golf offering.”
“An award like this gives New Zealand incredible international exposure as a must visit golfing destination.”
Golf is special interest sector for Tourism New Zealand and delivers high-value visitors who stay longer than the average.
On average golf visitor spend comes in at $4,800 per person versus $3,900 spend from an average visitor, and they stay on average 27 nights compared with 16 nights for an average visitor.
New Zealand has around 400 golf courses and offers incredible variety, from ocean front subtropical courses in the north to alpine settings in the south.
This includes NZ’s 14 marquee courses which in the year to March 2016 saw a 17% increase in visitor numbers according to Golf Tourism NZ.
This significant growth is among one of the highest being experienced worldwide.
Peter Walton, IAGTO chief executive said that New Zealand has transitioned from a ‘hidden gem’ to a much sought after golf destination.
He said: “The combined work of the private and public sectors, which have pooled their resources and experience, has positioned New Zealand to attract ever- larger numbers of high-spending golf visitors.
“The golf courses are working together to present themselves as clusters and trails and Tourism New Zealand has done a tremendous job of promoting this internationally.
“And the proof is in the numbers, with golf tourism to New Zealand rising rapidly over the past couple of years, as more and more golfers seek the spectacular and unique.”
He added: “This award signifies that golf tour operators the world over have recognised New Zealand as an established golf destination that consistently delivers a tremendous experience for golf travellers.”
New Zealand hosted three major international golf events in 2017, the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open and most recently the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship.
Stephen England-Hall added: “Tourism New Zealand took full advantage of the events, running strategic marketing campaigns to maximise international exposure before and after the events.”
New Zealand was named Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year in the 2002 IAGTO Awards and Golf Destination of the Year for Asia and Australasia for 2009.