by Marcus Leach
For some time now people have been saying that cycling is the new golf, and with good reason too as an increasing number of MAMILs (middle-aged-men-in-lycra) can be seen on the roads all over the country. However, a new report has shown this trend isn't just confined to our shores, but is being witnessed the world over.
The World Travel Market's Global Trends Report 2014 suggests that cycling has overtaken golf, in terms of popularity, in America. The lure of golf has declined since the 2000s from around 25 million players to 19 million in 2013. On the other hand 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, which means we haven't seen the last of middle-aged men in lycra, even if it isn't the most flattering thing for them to be wearing.
The plus side of cycling's increase in popularity is the increased number of companies becoming involved in cycling tourism.
The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 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 in a bid to maintain their client base.
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.
"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," World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said.
"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."