A government scheme to attract golf tourists to Scotland has been hailed as a success following a record number of inquiries this year.
The Drive It Home campaign, a VisitScotland prize draw promotion now in its third year, saw the number of people showing interest in golfing offers and packages in Scotland quadruple to more than 30,000 since the scheme began, a rise of 63% from last year.
First Minister Alex Salmond unveiled the figures at the Barclays Scottish Open at the championship’s new venue at Castle Stuart Golf Links near Inverness.
Launched in the year of Homecoming, Drive It Home has seen a steady increase in interest from the public for golf holidays in Scotland.
During 2009, the campaign referred almost 7500 golfers looking for information from golf tourism businesses in Scotland. This increased to almost 19,000 last year, rising to 30,000 in 2011.
Mr Salmond said: “Scotland delivers the most authentic and diverse golfing experience in the world. We can host world class golf events while steeped in the traditions of the game. No other country offers golf courses of such high quality, outstanding natural beauty, variety, accessibility and number.
“The VisitScotland Drive It Home campaign has exceeded all expectations, attracting unprecedented levels of interest in golf tourism packages from over 30,000 potential visitors.
“It is fantastic to be at this year’s Barclays Scottish Open and see the outstanding links course at Castle Stuart, first hand. While the unprecedented bad weather has been disappointing, there is still a tremendous enthusiasm for the new venue and location.
“The championship has attracted the game’s top names, cementing our position as the home of golf and generating an estimated £6m: £3.73m income for the Highlands and £2.13m across the rest of Scotland.
“Scottish golfers are excelling on the course at the moment and we are working hard to bring forward the next generation of talent introducing record numbers of young people to the game through Clubgolf, our national junior golf programme.
“An estimated 40,000 children in P5 will benefit from the scheme this year and I am confident that Clubgolf will create a Catriona Matthew and Colin Montgomerie of the future. We are also investing £1m to support Scotland’s most talented amateur players make the transition to the professional ranks.
“In our year of Active Scotland, we are firmly on the world golfing stage, with an exciting summer of the game thanks to events such as the Scottish Open and hosting five Women’s Open Championships over the next decade as we journey towards the Ryder Cup in 2014.”