Caribbean struggling, KPMG study shows

KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice has issued its second Benchmark survey of the Caribbean, and here’s the bottom line: the Caribbean’s golf business did worse in 2008 and 2009 than it did in 2006.

No surprise, right?

What’s to blame? Survey says: A weak world economy and a decrease in golf travel.

Also no surprise.

According to KPMG, 87 percent of the respondents to its survey admitted that the economic downturn has had a negative effect on their operations, 76 percent reported a decline in rounds played, and 64 percent said their revenues were down.

The survey is chock full of other disheartening facts and figures, including these:

  • Only 45 percent of the respondents reported a profit, compared to 64 percent in 2006.
  • Tourists play about half of the total rounds in the Caribbean, with courses in the Dominican Republic (84 percent), Jamaica (74 percent) and Costa Rica (65 percent) getting the most tourist play. Coincidentally, those are the places that get hurt worst when golfers stop traveling.
  • In 2008, the average number of total rounds played at 18-hole courses in the Caribbean was 18,450, down by 8 percent from 2006.
  • Courses in Bermuda recorded the highest average number of rounds played (24,000), while those in Costa Rica (10,826), the Dominican Republic (11,809) and Jamaica (12,951) recorded only about half that number. Just for perspective, it’s worth noting that in 2008 a golf course in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica saw, in a typical 350-day season, roughly 34 golfers a day.

It’s also worth noting that not all of the survey’s news is bad. On the bright side, says KPMG, “the long-term outlook for the region remains positive,” mostly because most everybody believes that travel will resume when the economic picture brightens.

The survey was conducted in late 2009. To read it for yourself, visit GolfBusinessCommunity.com.

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