The rise in popularity of cycling is posing a threat to golf tourism with middle aged men swapping their clubs for bikes creating the rise of MAMILs (middle-aged-men-in-lycra), reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, in association with Euromonitor International, released this week at World Travel Market.

The popularity of golf in the US has declined since the 2000s from around 25 million players to 19 million in 2013. While the number of cycling enthusiasts grew from 3.5 million in 2012 to 3.8 million in 2013, according to Elliot Gluskin of cycling research firm Gluskin Townley Group.

The net result is that cycling appears to have become a strong contender for the leisure time of middle-aged men, the traditional mainstay of golf tourism, the report reveals.

Destinations such as Oregon are positioning themselves as cycle-friendly, for tourists and residents alike. Research shows that cycling tourists to the state that stay overnight spend 20% more than the average overnight traveller.

Specialist tour operators including DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co have found that combining cycling with other activities such as kayaking and hiking helps maintain interest with existing clients while helping to attract new ones.

Cyclists are also interested in nutrition and training advice as part of their vacation.

The WTM Global Trends Report 2014, in association with Euromonitor International, reveals that as cycling becomes more popular as part of the activity holiday boom, golf tourism is responding by providing other activities to encourage multi-generational groups to visit golf resorts.

Cycling research firm Gluskin Townley Group also identified a long-term problem – as today’s middle-aged men get older and fewer children grow up with a passion for cycling, a gap may develop in the market.

World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “High-spending middle-aged males are always a key target market for travel operators whether they are wearing lycra or not! The battle between golf and cycling businesses in the US for their travel wallets is an interesting dynamic which could be played out in other markets too.

“Cycling holidays in the US satisfy the demand for activity and experiential travel. We expect to see more operators enter this sector over the next few years.”

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner added: “Cycling may be on trend at the moment but the golf industry is responding, creating genuine choice for consumers.”


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