Spring-Time in Japan Sees Golf Travel Blossom
Miyazaki, Kyushu, Japan, March 23, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / The annual Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC) has returned after a three-year Covid hiatus, bringing with it confidence and optimism from across the Asia Pacific region. AGTC 2023 took place in the Japanese prefecture of Miyazaki on the southernmost main island of Kyushu over six days in March, during which cherry blossoms began to bloom in the warm spring sunshine.
The 9th annual staging of the event, which is organised by IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators), attracted 320 delegates, among them 130 golf tour operators from 25 countries, all selling golf vacations either within or to golf destinations across Asia.
IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton said: “AGTC 2020 was scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur in March 2020 and had to be cancelled with only two months’ notice. Since then, the staging of AGTC in Miyazaki had to be postponed twice, in 2021 and 2022, until eventually taking place last week.
“The unexpectedly high turnout brought relief and excitement in equal measure from the participating delegates, who benefited from three days packed with appointments and functions, many of them meeting each other for the first time since 2019.
“One month ahead of hosting the agriculture session of the 49th G7 summit, Miyazaki launched itself onto the international golf tourism map by hosting AGTC and by showcasing seven of its 26 golf courses in the first three days of the event. There is a wealth of great golf courses within a 30-minute drive of Miyazaki City, which itself boasts a large and vibrant nightlife district full of iconic bars and restaurants.”
Walton added: “With its year-round, golf-friendly climate, Miyazaki is already well known to the domestic and Korean markets, but has now positioned itself as a truly international golf destination.
“With Japanese delegates representing one third of all AGTC supplier delegates this year, Japan now has a great opportunity to become a bucket-list golf destination for discerning golf travellers, and Miyazaki is one of the many regions within Japan that can benefit enormously from the country’s successful development as an accessible, desirable and memorable golf destination.”
Highlighting the success of the event, Walton said: “In Asia, where the recovery from the pandemic came later than in other parts of the world, it was so important for us to provide golf destinations and golf tourism suppliers the opportunity to engage with golf tour operators at this time. AGTC Miyazaki was undoubtedly the perfect springboard for what I believe will be the most important 12 months for the participants in recent golf tourism history.”
Shunji Kouno, Governor of Miyazaki Prefecture, addressed attending delegates and told them: “We are excited that these two days of business meetings have given many people from all over the world the opportunity to visit Miyazaki and Japan.”
He noted that the prefecture had focused on welcoming golfers from Japan and Asia in the past and had hosted the renowned Dunlop Phoenix Tournament for 50 years, inviting leading golfers including Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama. But he added: “We hope this convention will put Miyazaki on the map as a golf destination of choice for people around the world.”
Governor Kouno also told delegates that Miyazaki had the honour of hosting AGTC exactly one month before the G7 agriculture ministers’ meeting in the prefecture, and remarked that the IAGTO golf tourism convention should be called the G25 referencing the number of countries involved.
Peter Walton added: “AGTC 2023 will go down as one of the best and most influential golf tourism events of the past decade, primarily because of the perseverance, commitment and investment of partners including the host destination, Miyazaki Prefecture, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) that has recognised sports and golf travel as one of the pillars of its national tourism strategy, the Japan Golf Tourism Association (JGTA) that will pick up the momentum of the work begun at AGTC, and Sega Sammy, the owners of the outstanding Phoenix Seagaia Resort where the convention took place.”
AGTC 2024 will take place from 12-14 March 2024, with the venue to be announced shortly.
Established in 1997, IAGTO is the global trade organisation of the golf tourism industry, and has 2400 members in over 90 countries including almost 700 golf tour operator members in 61 countries, which control more than 90% of golf holiday packages sold worldwide and which collectively have annual sales of over €2.5 billion. IAGTO runs annual Asia, Europe and North America Golf Tourism Conventions, along with regular Destination Conventions. IAGTO established the International Golf Travel Writers Association in 2000, the year in which the first prestigious annual IAGTO Awards also took place.