Golf lovers have praised Vietnam as an attractive destination with high-quality golf courses, scenic landscapes and favourable weather conditions. Despite such potential, the golf tourism sector is yet to optimise its advantages.
At a recent working session with representatives from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), legendary golfer Greg Norman, who was appointed Tourism Ambassador of Vietnam for 2018-2021, has committed to assisting Vietnam in making a short film on its golf courses and a video clip on how the sport is played in the country.
A ‘goldmine’ for tourism
Nguyen Cong Hoan, director of the travel company HanoiRedtours, said golf tourism is lucrative as its target customers are often willing to pay for luxury hotels and restaurants and return several times.
In recent years, following the development of tourism infrastructure in Vietnam, golf courses have also received investment. Most major tourism areas have started paying attention to building golf courses alongside resorts.
Also, thanks to favourable weather conditions, golfers can come to Vietnam year-round. Particularly in winter, when golf courses in Northeast Asia and Northern Europe are on hiatus, Vietnamese ones in the central and southern regions maintain normal operation.
“Developing golf tourism, Vietnam sees chances to attract a large number of international tourists from key markets where demand for the sport is high like the Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China. Last winter, all golf courses in the central and southern regions were fully booked, with their customers mostly coming from Northeast Asia,” Hoan said.
To serve such demand, the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) has established the Vietnam Golf Tourism Association (VIGTA). The organisation works to include the sport in local tourism products, and organise golf tournaments, workshops and fairs, among other activities in Vietnam and abroad, aiming to increase budget collection and boost Vietnamese golf’s position in the region and in the world.
According to golf course managers, the number of people visiting Vietnam to play golf accounts for a large proportion of foreign visitors to the country. As such the VIGTA establishment is a right move to help fulfill growth demand of golf tourism.
“We expect the VIGTA to carry out activities to make golf tourism an important factor of Vietnam tourism. However, such a goal is not easy as it relies on how we actually do the work and how golf courses and travel agencies are linked together,” noted Vice Chairman of the VITA Vu The Binh.
How to promote Vietnamese golf tourism?
The dish is ready; the point is how to make it appeal to international friends.
Hoan said: “For a long time, we have focused on promoting Vietnam as a country of scenic sites, long history and diverse culture and food. Now, the situation has changed, apart from the traditional tourist markets, we now offer services for those interested in meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) and golf tourism.”
Hanoi plans to hold more golf tournaments and exhibitions to give Vietnam’s tourism a fresh look to draw higher number of visitors, increase revenue and ensure sustainable development.
According to Binh, in the framework of the recent Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) 2019 in Hanoi, golf tourism promotion just stopped at the establishment of the VIGTA. As for further promoting golf tourism overseas, he said there are two ways, which are via golf organisations and via travel companies. If the two parties work together, information on Vietnamese golf tourism will spread further, he added.
Ngo Hoai Chung, deputy director general of the VNAT, said the agency is committed to supporting the VITA and VIGTA for the overall growth of the tourism sector.
The establishment of the VIGTA will help develop high-quality tourism, he said.
In such a context, domestic tourism firms have become aware of the ‘goldmine’ and wish to form a strong connection with golf courses in promoting the sport and attracting more visitors./.