Thailand’s standing as Asia’s prime golfing destination has been underlined at the 2015 Thailand Golf Travel Mart, writes Spencer Robinson, Chief Communications Officer, Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand [TAT], the gathering is designed to attract more golfers to Thailand and enhance the Kingdom’s rapidly-growing popularity as a genuinely world-class golfing getaway.
In her opening address, Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT’s Acting Governor and Deputy Governor for International Marketing, said that the tourism body will be promoting Thailand as a ‘Quality Leisure Destination Through Thainess’.
Juthaporn added that golf has been identified as one of the priority niche markets. It is also in line with the TAT’s policy to promote travel and tourism to the provinces and disseminate tourism revenue nationwide, she said.
More than 150 specialist golf holiday buyers from 27 TAT overseas offices were invited for the four-day event in the seaside resort town of Hua Hin.
During the week they met with 95 sellers, made up of golf courses and service providers such as golf schools, golf equipment retailers, Thai travel agents and tour operators, hotels, spas and other related businesses. Also in attendance were more than 40 media.
Describing the appeal of Thailand to golfers, Juthaporn said: “Golfers can enjoy their game and have a holiday at the same time.
“Challenging and exciting courses staffed by well trained and courteous Thai caddies are the reasons why Thailand is such a popular choice for golf enthusiasts, especially from Japan, Korea, Europe and, increasingly, India and China.
“We also have attractive green fees that offer great value for money, excellent clubhouse facilities serving delicious Thai cuisine as well as good, challenging holes in an exotic tropical environment.
“Courses can be played all year round. Furthermore, we have facilities for post-game relaxation, such as health, spas and traditional massage.”
In 2013, approximately 460,000 visitors came to Thailand, either specifically to play golf or they did so as part of a wider package of leisure activities, generating an estimated 4.4 billion baht in revenue [about US$125 million].
Between January-May this year, visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 12.4 million, up 25 per cent on the same period in 2014. They generated 592.9 billion baht in tourism income, up 25.13 per cent.
In recent years Thailand has scooped an array of global awards. Most notably, Pattaya and Hua Hin were voted as Golf Destination of the Year for Asia and Australia by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators [IAGTO] in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Peter Walton, IAGTO’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Thailand is by far the largest golf destination in Asia and ranks seventh globally.”
According to Walton, every successful golfing destination must boast five key strengths – quality, access, variety, climate and value. Thailand, he added, had them all.
Tourism Authority of Thailand www.tourismthailand.org
International Association of Golf Tour Operators www.iagto.com
Asian Golf Industry Federation www.agif.asia