A hole new world

Mark Williams

Mugove Chigada
The Tourism Golf Classic introduced this week is an interesting package for the Zimbabwe travel and tourism calendar and could grow bigger in the coming years.

The hope though is that it does not become just the fundraising event that it is, and be a real attractive travel package.

A look at how some operators under the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) control golf holiday packages across the world, shows how important it is never to separate the sport from tourism.

According to IAGTO, the operators “control over 87 percent of golf holiday packages sold worldwide and turnover more than €2,1 billion per year”.

Already many travel writers have dismissed the assertion that tourists mostly visit Mauritius for the sun lounger. And that is just an example.

In the past years a number of countries have increased their investment in developing great golf courses to improve arrivals, having noticed the growth in golf travellers, complementing the efforts of other private players.

“Whilst its primary goal has always been to develop services and activities to directly benefit its growing membership, IAGTO now has a much broader remit to maintain and raise standards throughout the industry and to help destinations position themselves not only to attract more business but to deliver the best possible experience to the visiting golf traveller,” say IAGTO acknowledging the market.

Organisers of the Tourism Golf Classic noted that this will be annual though the thrust this year seem to be more on fundraising.

“This will be a fundraising event aimed at enhancing the ZCT’s income and also at raising greater awareness of the role and value of travel and tourism to Zimbabwe. It is being organised by a team of volunteers headed by Dr Taka Munyanyiwa, a well-known tourism consultant and will take place on Friday September 1 at Harare’s Police Golf Club,” said the statement.

ZCT president Tich Hwingwiri said: “This is a fundraiser, but it will also offer opportunities for networking, not only for travel and tourism operators but also for people from the public sector and across the entire economic spectrum.”

On announcing the tournament, it was highlighted that the field was almost full, a sign of the huge interest generated.

And if the package can improve, the estimated five to 10 percent from the estimated 56 million golfers, who travel at least once a year and never misses the opportunity to tee off, could find something to smile about in Zimbabwe.

According to the Tourism Review, in 2013 it was estimated that Thailand was attracting more golf tourists and was bound to be a top golfing vacation destination.

Meanwhile, in the Sunshine Tour, Zimbabweans Mark Williams, Greg Bentley, Mohammad Rauf Mandhu entered the Vodacom Origins of Golf — Zimbali which set for August 31 to September 1.

Zambian Madalitso Muthiya won it at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club. He got the better of Hennie du Plessis and Ockie Strydom by two strokes. Muthiya “shot a final round four-under-par 66 to total 11-under-                                                                                  par”.

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