Promoting golf based tourism in Vietnam

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golf clubVietnam is now seen as an attractive tourist destination for foreigners. Aside from main-stream activities, it also offers great development potential in high-end golf-based tourism, which has made a significant contribution to tourism revenue, according to industry insiders.

Howie Roberts, the general director of Da Nang Golf Club, said golf-based tourism was not a new phenomenon. He said many European and Middle Eastern countries had been attracting visiting golfers for years. Thailand is seen as the largest golf-based tourism market in the world. This is reflected in the numbers of high-end golf tourists visiting the country. In Vietnam, golf is still a relatively new sport. Roberts said it was vital Vietnam promoted itself as an attractive destination for golfers if it wants to fully realize its potential.

It is anticipated that golf-based tourism will develop rapidly in the country in the near future. John Blanco, general director of the Nam Hai Hotel in Hoi An, said tourism and golf had grown fastest among high-earners. Golf-based tourism should be developed because golf, which is easily accessible and sociable, combines the love of sport with discovery and exploration. Investment in golf equipment and golf courses, which meet international standards, is vital for the development of the sport in Vietnam, he said.

To meet demand for luxury tourism, numerous golf courses have been built in Vietnam, such as those at Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel, Novotel Ocean Dunes & Golf Resort in Phan Thiet, Sealink, Montgomerie Links, Da Nang Golf Club and Long Thanh in Dong Nai. Golf-based tourism has developed rapidly in Da Nang and Quang Nam, where the consortium Vietnam Golf Coast was formed and famous historical sites exist nearby. Blanco said 30 percent of the hotel's guests play golf at the Nam Hai. Of these, most belong to groups. He said that in Da Nang the number of golf-based tourists, particularly foreign visitors, was souring.

In November 2010, Vietnamese representatives participated for the first time at the International Golf Travel Market in Spain. To meet increased demand among foreign tourists, Vietnam Airlines recently began offering flights twice a week between Dang Nang and Hong Kong in a bid to promote golf-based tourism.

To capitalize on the growing interest in golf-based tourism, local resorts and clubs, such as Nam Hai, Danang and Montgomerie Links have entered into partnerships with travel agents in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Danang Golf Club even promotes itself to foreign visitors through international travel agents in the European Union, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, which is predicted to generate huge amounts of foreign currency.