HVCB is seeing green when it comes to golf


HONOLULU -- The promise of pristine greens, panoramic views and challenging courses has helped make golf an important selling point of Hawaii vacations for many years.

Now that new research has revealed just how lucrative that market could be -- and how little Hawaii has done to leverage it -- the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau (HVCB) plans to place more emphasis on luring golfers to the islands.

A recent survey conducted by Market Trends Pacific for the HVCB and the Hawaii Tourism Authority also suggests that savvy travel agents could enjoy a bigger piece of this market by actively pursuing golfers, selling them golf packages and helping them secure tee times.

Of the golfers surveyed, 50% indicated that a guaranteed tee time is very important to them, yet 64% booked those tee times themselves. Only 6% in the survey scheduled tee times through a travel agent.

Furthermore, 67% of survey subjects relied on information via word of mouth about golfing destinations, while a mere 8% received information from a travel agent. When booking a vacation, 62% did it themselves and 13% used a travel agent.

The research reveals that golf is an important consideration in selecting a leisure destination. About 34% of golfers from the mainland said it was a very important factor.

As expected, golfers do much more than hit the links. Of those surveyed, 46% said they would participate in snorkeling or scuba excursions, 29% planned sightseeing or tours, 25% would go to the beach and 7% would take a helicopter tour.

The HVCB said the research will help it determine where to place its advertising dollars and how to communicate more effectively with golfers -- especially those who want to travel and spend money.

"We were operating on a hunch until now," said Chris Kam, director of market trends for the HVCB. "Now, we have the hard data, and we can really fine-tune the marketing."

The exposure is already there. Six Professional Golfers' Association tournaments take place in Hawaii.

"We need to take the visibility we get from that and the infrastructure we have, and make Hawaii a premier [golf] destination," said HVCB president and CEO John Monahan.

To contact reporter Katherine Nichols, send e-mail to [email protected].

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