BOSSES for Scotland’s golf tourism industry have extended the target for the value of the sector to £325 million after a period of strong growth.

On Course for Growth, a mid-term review of the national golf tourism strategy, had an original target of increasing the value of golf tourism from £220 million in 2013 to £300m by 2020.

But a study published last year revealed that the value of the Scottish golf tourism industry had already soared to £286m by 2016.

This indicated that the sector was on course to reach its original target before 2020.

Golf Perthshire project manager Allan Minto said: “Scotland is known around the world as the Home of Golf and factors such as increased accessibility via air routes, exchange rates, international media profile from major events and the continued development of Scotland’s world-class golf tourism product are all expected to see the industry maintain this excellent growth.”

The On Course for Growth strategy is supported by a number of key organisations involved in the development and promotion of golf tourism in Scotland including Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland and Scottish Golf.

Ross Duncan, development director at Scottish Golf, said: “Visitor revenue has become an increasingly important income stream as clubs diversify away from the reliance on membership recruitment and retention to grow their business.”

“The updated On Course for Growth Strategy will widen the opportunities for even more clubs to benefit from industry support through a coordinated and collaborative approach, and coupled with other partnership initiatives, will contribute to a bright future for golf clubs across Scotland.”

US President Donald Trump brought international attention to Scottish golf courses when he visited his Turnberry course during his visit to the UK in the summer.

But Scottish naturalists have opposed plans for a golf course on protected dunes Coul Links, which critics have compared to Trump’s Aberdeenshire development.

If it goes ahead, Coul Links would include a £10m 18-hole course by US tycoon Mike Keiser and business partner Todd Warnock.

A public inquiry expected to begin early in 2019 and predicted to last for several weeks.

It is thought that the first session could be held in February.

Trump’s company has also submitted plans to invest £150m in the resort in Balmedie, near Aberdeen which were also criticised by environmentalists who cited serious fears about the impact on wildlife.

But the golf tourism strategy highlights the importance of the industry to the Scottish economy.

Minto added: “These figures outline the importance of the golf tourism industry to Scotland’s economy and with £5 spent elsewhere for every £1 a golf visitor spends playing golf, the ripple effect is felt far and wide across the visitor economy in shops, hotels, restaurants and other tourism attractions.”

On Course For Growth outlines the importance of attracting more women and young people to play golf in Scotland.

It suggests using the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles to market Scotland as a golfing destination accessible to all.