Gary Wilkinson recognised for contributions to golf tourism

Wilkinson Golf
Wilkinson Golf

Gary Wilkinson, Managing Director of Wilkinson Golf was awarded a Special Recognition Award at a recent golf industry event during Scottish Golf Tourism Week.

On two separate occasions, Gary has chaired the Scottish Inbound Golf Tour Operators Association (SIGTOA) and represented the wider golf tourism industry in meetings and representations up to governmental level. As part of a small team, he was instrumental in winning two substantial financial support packages for Scottish tour operators during COVID which undoubtedly saved many businesses.

The Scottish Golf Tourism Week was brought to the Highlands in partnership with local newspaper The Press and Journal. 90 tour operators representing a record 40 countries spent the week visiting courses around Scotland and taking part in over 3,500 face-to-face appointments, planning itineraries for visiting golfers in 2024 and 2025.

Organised by DC Thomson and supported by The Highland Council, Visit Inverness Loch Ness, Highland and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland, deals done during the week bring an estimated 50,000 golf tourists to Scotland each year, hugely benefitting local economies.

The six-day annual event has been taking place in St Andrews since 2016 and relocated to Inverness for the first time this year, centred at the city’s Kingsmills Hotel in association with Good Highland Food. The decision to move the event from its Fife home was taken to make it easier for north east suppliers, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, to access global buyers. Next year, the event will continue to showcase more of Scotland’s golf regions and support local businesses and communities with 2025’s host city announced as Aberdeen, maintaining the partnership with The P&J.

The week culminated on 21 March with the prestigious Scottish Golf Tourism Awards, held at the at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre in Inverness. Presented in association with Luxe Scot, the awards saw St Andrews’ Connoisseur Golf picking up Best Tour Operator for a second year running. A total of 15 awards were handed out at a gala dinner attended by over 500 people to celebrate the clubs, hotels and experiences that have helped shape Scotland’s reputation as a world-class golfing destination.

Golf clubs across the north east of Scotland did particularly well with the Royal Dornoch Golf Club winning the award for best course in the over £250 category, Cruden Bay Golf Club near Peterhead winning the £150-£250 category and Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Links on the Black Isle winning the under £100 group.

The high point of the night was a standing ovation for Gary Wilkinson, former Chairman of the Scottish Inbound Golf Tour Operators Association who received a special recognition award for his unwavering contributions to the golf industry.

Andy Williams, Chief Revenue Officer at DC Thomson, organisers of the event said, “It has been very motivating to see the positivity and optimism this week as Scotland’s golf industry has been proudly showing off to the world what makes this country, that is arguably the home of golf, so special.

“We organise Scottish Golf Tourism Week as it really makes a difference to local suppliers. The average benefit for each business taking part is projected to be in excess of £215,000 in the three years following the event which is just extraordinary. The economic benefits go beyond that, and it’s estimated that Scottish Golf Tourism Week contributes an estimated £3 million to the local economy, highlighting the vital role that golf tourism plays in supporting businesses and community development across Scotland.

“DC Thomson’s purpose is to champion the communities we serve. A growing and innovating Scottish golf sector will create jobs and opportunities in our communities and the more people playing the sport, the more opportunity for our local news titles and brands like bunkered to power them on that journey.”

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