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GOLF

Promising frontier

The country eyes share of projected $47-billion golf tourism revenue

photograph by Marc Anthony Reyes for the daily tribune TOURISM Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco wants to make the most of the country’s world-class golf facilities.

There’s an obvious spike in foreign golfers during weekends at Intramuros Golf Club. Mostly are Koreans, according to its resident manager Mylene Magsino. But there are Japanese and Chinese players as well.

All are walk-ins.

Meaning, these players weren’t part of the tour group. But they took it upon themselves to bring their golf sets and find a course readily available within the Metro Manila or whatever hotel they’re staying at the moment.

One particular weekend saw Intramuros catering to eight flights of Japanese golfers. But any given day, Koreans comprise 20 percent of its clientele, 10 percent Japanese and five percent Chinese.

That’s how big the potential of golf tourism in the country these days. And that’s exactly what stakeholders want to utilize to the hilt.

During the first-ever Philippine Golf Tourism Summit on Tuesday, tourism officials led by Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco gathered the support of golf and marketing executives to examine the prospects.

“Golf is a promising new frontier for tourism,” said Frasco during her keynote at Grand Hyatt Manila ballroom.

“(There are studies that) golf tours are looking at a $47-billion growth worldwide by 2030.”

“We have the best climate (for golfing), the best courses. We can become a premier golf destination.”

The Philippines has 100-120 golf courses including the oldest in Asia — the Iloilo Golf Club or previously known as the Sta. Barbara (built in 1907) — said Product Development of Golf Tourism and Special Projects director Lyle Fernando Uy.

By comparison, Thailand has about 250 golf courses and they have a head-start in terms of efforts to maximize its potentials.

Frasco said the summit was a big step toward that direction. But they are making one giant stride within a few days.

On 4 to 6 December, they will hold the Golf Tourism Familiarization Tour in Cebu City to establish platforms, gather insights and develop strategies.

“We would like to formulate a golf-centric travel experience for the tourists,” Frasco said. “Through this collaborative action, we want to come up with a golf tourism development plan.”

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