Japan targets golf tourism

Japan is hoping to increase its share of the global golf tourism market. The country, which is often considered an expensive golfing destination, last week exhibited at the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) in Turkey, in an effort to prove its products are accessible.

“In recent years, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has run promotions for skiing in Japan and Japan’s tropical Okinawa islands. Moving forward we’d next like to introduce the world to golf in Japan. Our first step in doing this has been to exhibit at IGTM, the premier event for the golf travel industry”, said Kylie Clark, the JNTO’s Head of PR & Marketing.

The JNTO admitted that the perception that golf in Japan one of high green fees and limited access to courses due to strict membership rules. It added however, that a round in Japan can start from just JPY4,000 (US$52) and that most courses welcome visitors.

Peter Walton, Chief Executive of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO), agreed that Japan is not as inaccessible as many golfers believe.

“There is a common perception that golf in Japan is expensive, but in fact, particularly in Hokkaido, the green fees vary enormously and perhaps most interesting of all is that the restaurants, bars and other commodities are reasonably priced and deliver a value for money that will pleasantly surprise many,” said Walton.

“Japan is in a very lucky situation. It has a wonderful golf destination, but it’s totally undiscovered. It’s great value for money. Some of the best golf you’ll play any where in the world,” he added.

Japan has 2,400 golf courses – second only to the US – many of which are of international championship standard. These range from the tropical courses of Okinawa to the northern realms of Hokkaido.