Tourism is a mainstay in the economic engine of any country. Be it nationals or foreigners, the contribution they do to the GDP of a country is immense and a well-recognized fact. As per World Travel and Tourism Council in conjunction with Oxford Economics, Travel & Tourism’s contribution to world GDP outpaced the global economy for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Travel & Tourism’s direct, indirect and induced impact accounted for: US$8.3 trillion contribution to the world’s GDP, and grew at 4.6%, much faster than the economy (3% growth during 2017).
Golf is a significant contributor in promoting travel & tourism across the globe. As per a study by VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, the economic value of golf tourism and events to Scotland has increased to £286 million. The study reveals that the value of golf tourism and events has increased by 30 per cent (£66 million) since 2008, supporting 4,700 jobs and spreading benefits across the country’s golfing regions. It also shows that overseas golfing visitors spend on average £338 per night during a trip to Scotland, which is more than 4 times the daily spend of an average overseas visitor (£78.90).
A similar story played out in the Dominican Republic after Pete and Alice Dye opened Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog with three, one of a kind oceanside holes in late fall of 1971. It ignited a tourism boom that led to construction of seven international airports that see nearly 6 million visitors annually, including 42 percent coming from the United States. With its 27 topflight golf facilities, the Dominican Republic has become one of the most popular destinations for golf in the Caribbean and Latin America, as per National Golf Foundation publication.
New golf courses continue to emerge in some far-flung outposts. According to the most recent NGF count, the game is played in 208 countries, and that number will expand by at least one later this year when Jack Nicklaus opens Ashgabat Golf Club in Turkmenistan. So clearly the staggering figures above only reconfirm the notion that the contribution of Golf Tourism is immense in the economic fortunes of a country.
The role of Golf to promote tourism is possibly understated and un-utilised as far as India is concerned. While Sports Tourism is gaining interest and the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India endeavours to work as a catalyst and active supporter for the development of Golf Tourism in the country we have miles to go.
Countries like Thailand and Indonesia have jumped into the bandwagon. Golf courses with picturesque settings, ease of travel formalities and supporting infrastructure has only ensured that these already popular travel destinations attract a new genre of travellers.
India has its fair share of beautiful, picturesque and serene Golf Courses. Kashmir Golf Course, in Srinagar, which was destroyed during the floods of 2014, has been redesigned and rebuilt to international standards. Thenzwal Golf Resort-Mizoram, is the first project developed by any state under the “Swadesh Darshan Scheme “by Ministry of Tourism India consisting of 18 Holes Golf Course, Resort and a club house. Oxford Golf Course in Pune, Kalhaar Blues and Greens Golf Course in Ahmedabad, ITC Classic at Manesar, Tarudhan Valley, Karma Lakelands are some others which come to mind.
Extended weekends is a norm that is fast catching up in the country. People are looking for quick and relaxing breaks from the grind of everyday schedules. Golf has an opportunity to fill the gap and attract the domestic travellers.
In summation, Golf has the potential to make a significant contribution to India growth story. There is no dearth of great golf courses, what is required is possibly a collective mindset not only from the golf course owners but the government as well to en-cash upon this opportunity.