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Golf tipped to drive up Scottish hotel bookings

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While many holidaymakers, both from Britain and elsewhere in the world, dream of a white Christmas, for Scottish hoteliers, the opposite is often the case.

For, though it may make the beauty of the Highlands or the majesty of Edinburgh Castle even more breathtaking, heavy snowfall can push revenues down as prospective guests are forced to cancel bookings and stay at home.

Indeed, according to a new report from the Scotsman, the snow and ice that impacted most parts of Britain in December cost the hospitality industry north of the border hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenues, with this latest financial hit coming as many hotels in Edinburgh and other parts of the country were only just beginning to see an upturn in fortunes following the hit they took on the back of the global economic downturn.

Illustrating the extent of the problem, the newspaper has reported that the Cameron House hotel, which attracts visitors from around the world due to its prominent location on the shores of Loch Lomond, lost around £400,000 over the final few weeks of the year as the inclement weather kept guests away.

On a broader scale, room occupancy rates across Scotland were seen to fall by 8.5 per cent in December alone, thanks largely to the forced closure of Edinburgh Airport and numerous main roads and railway links.

However, while hotel managers will still be licking the wounds they sustained during this latest bout of bad weather for some time yet, looking ahead, the future could be far brighter.

In particular, a new report has revealed that golf tourism could generate as much as £300 million for the Scottish economy over the next ten years alone, with much of this going into the pockets of the country's hospitality sector.

The study, which was carried out by Scottish Enterprise and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise in partnership with Visit Scotland, found that, despite the recent economic downturn, the market for golf tourism has remained pretty resilient over the past couple of years, suggesting the chance to enjoy 18 holes amid beautiful scenery is the last thing many sports-loving consumers are willing to give up in this age of austerity.

As such, it is estimated that, if harnessed correctly, the potential of this market could help drive the Scottish tourism industry forward over the next few years, with golf fans from emerging markets such as India and China, as well as those from long-standing sources of interest such as the US and Scandinavia, expected to help push up bookings for hotels in St Andrews and other top destinations north of the border.

Welcoming the implications of the report, Scotland's tourism minister Jim Mather noted: "Scotland is the home of golf, boasting more than 500 courses - from world-renowned championship links to hidden gems dotted across breathtaking landscapes - and providing a unique selling point that attracts thousands of visitors every year from across the globe."

This comes as hoteliers in the historic golfing destination of St Andrews are bracing themselves for a major upturn in visitor numbers as fans of the royal family flock to see the city where Prince William met his wife-to-be.



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