The South Africa Golf Summit, held at Fancourt 20th to 23rd April, has been lauded a great success especially as catalyst to forming the country’s first golf industry umbrella body.
Following two years of defining the body’s role and mission, delegates at the summit made finances and resources available to formalise the proposed South African Business of Golf Association (SABGA) within the next few months.
Tourism management head at the University of Pretoria, Professor Ernie Heath, who has acted as strategic consultant to the golf industry in this regard, said certain finer aspects of the association would be finalised during workshops in June.
“The golf industry is responding to calls from all sectors to speak as one voice. This association will not only act as representative of the industry to all other stakeholders but will also self-regulate and market the South African golf industry inside and outside the country,” said Heath.
Fancourt CEO Ingrid Diesel said role players were satisfied with the outcomes of the summit and now sought action that would ensure the sustainability of the game and industry in South Africa. “It is time for all stakeholders to embrace and take hold of this association that our industry so desperately needs,” she said.
Another continuous theme throughout the summit was South Africa’s golf tourism potential that remained relatively untapped. International speakers in particular emphasised that the country should not be discouraged for being a long-haul destination but should highlight the fact that especially Europeans would not be affected by major time differences and subsequent jet-lag. South Africa was lauded as an excellent destination because of good all-year weather conditions, excellent quality and variety of golf courses as well as diverse tourism attractions and relatively good infrastructure.
Time was also dedicated to ways in which golf could be broadened to include more of the general public as well as the disadvantaged. A public-private partnership was launched at the summit between the Western Cape government and FIRSTGOLF®, an initiative that enables more affordable, available and sustainable golf.
Other matters that arose from the high quality presentations and panel discussions included:
• A need to change negative perceptions that golf and golf estates are elitist;
• A need for developers to address land reform and other socio-economic issues by pursuing more lasting benefits to adjacent communities;
• A need for strong self-regulation to ensure that all golf developers comply at triple bottom line and provide for social, economic and environmental benefits;
• A need to understand and consider a new generation’s requirements when developing and designing properties and resorts; and
• A need to more actively pursue opening of the skies above Africa to ensure tourism advancement. A principle accepted by African countries but so far not yet applied.
South African speakers and contributors at the summit included acting Western Cape premier Leonard Ramatlakane, SA Tourism Events Platform general manager Sugen Pillay, Grant Thornton partner Martin Jansen van Vuuren, ABSA senior property analyst Jacques du Toit, Airlines Association of Southern Africa deputy CEO Chris Zweigenthal, Unisa Law Professor Shadrack Gutto, Arabella Group executive director Riaan Gous, Pam Golding Properties CEO Dr Andrew Golding, South African Professional Golf Association CEO Dennis Bruyns, Fancourt marketing director Kwakye Donkor and South African Tourism Services Association CEO Mike Tatalias.
Twelve internationals from the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom contributed as speakers or panellists – notably former director general of the Irish Tourism Board Matt McNulty who was responsible for increasing Ireland’s tourism economy by 300 percent, mainly because of a strong golf tourism marketing strategy.
South African Golf Summit www.sagolfsummit.com