Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Vietnam wants to welcome international guests with golf tourism

Golf is a specific and relatively new type of tourism in Vietnam, but is highly appreciated by many experts for its potential in attracting international visitors.

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Vietnam is making efforts to welcome the first international delegations back. In phase one, the overall guest experience is still limited. Therefore, the problem is what should Vietnam do to attract more foreign tourists? And importantly, how to make them spend more, thereby contributing to the tourism industry that has been severely affected after 4 times of epidemics.

In this context, golf tourism is seen as a bright spot for the industry's difficult problem. Vietnam has many advantages to bring golf tourism to a new level. On the contrary, there are still many difficulties for the fledgling golf tourism market in Vietnam.

Great potential

"Vietnam has the most beautiful golf courses in the world", that is the comment of Mr. Ha Van Sieu, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, when talking about the potential of golf tourism in Vietnam.

According to Mr. Sieu, when we are accepting to live with the epidemic, the tourism industry needs to find ways to open up and attract international visitors.

"Golf tourism is an area of strong growth in recent years. From 2017 to 2021, Vietnam has always been considered one of the best golf destinations in Asia.

In 2021, Vietnam is recognized as the best golf destination in the world. This is a market that attracts tourists, helping to choose a safe stream of tourists to open up tourism," Mr. Sieu shared.

Mr. Ha Van Sieu highly appreciated the potential of the golf tourism market when it opened its doors to international guests. Photo: Hoang Son.

Mr. Nguyen Van Linh, Chairman of the Vietnam Golf Tourism Association, pointed out four factors that can bring golf tourism in Vietnam to "take off".

The first is the favorable geographical location. The second is the potential of culture and people. The third is the diversity of the cuisine. Finally, the potential for golf course infrastructure.

Although still young compared to many countries in the region and the world, golf tourism in Vietnam has shown many bright spots. The world's top golfers have come to experience and give quite positive comments.

In 2019, the legendary Greg Norman visited a golf course in Ha Long (Quang Ninh). After the trip, he shared: "Vietnam's golf tourism industry and even Vietnam's golf are still very young but full of potential".

According to Norman, Vietnam is entering the golf development phase with many investments in luxury tourism infrastructure. The potential and growth rate of golf tourism in Vietnam is quite high.

With proper investment, Vietnam can compete with other countries in the region and attract the high-end golf player segment. Studies show that this group of guests is 6 times more likely to pay than regular international visitors.

Do international guests like golf tourism?

According to Mr. Ha Van Sieu, the number of international visitors interested in golf tourism is very high.

A representative of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism emphasized that out of 200 international visitors to Phu Quoc (Kien Giang), 30 guests came just to play golf. This is a fairly high rate, showing the golf tourism trend of the foreign market.

The demand of international visitors for golf tourism is undeniable. Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Japan... all focus on attracting this market.

Especially like Thailand, the land of the Golden Temple has built a brand and become a favorite destination for golfers from Korea, Europe, America... Every year, the revenue of golf tourism in Thailand amounts to tens of billions of dollars, contributing to about 9% of the country's GDP.

Vietnam needs to focus on attracting the golf market. Photo: FLC.

Vietnam is also trying to attract this group of tourists, although the number is still not too high. According to statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in 2018, of more than 15 million international visitors to Vietnam, only 0.08% of visitors combine golf, mainly guests from Korea, Japan and some Southeast Asian countries.

Mr. Pham Duy Nghia, Director of Vietfoot Travel, shared: "Vietnam has 32 5-star international standard golf courses and 6,000 km of coastline. We need to take advantage of that to catch up with Thailand and Malaysia. ..

However, I realize that Vietnam does not have a policy to facilitate the development of professional golf. In addition, there are no units involved to open package tours for tourists from Korea and Japan. Meanwhile in Thailand, Malaysia has had a good package tour, thanks to the involvement of the government, hotel supply system, restaurant, travel agency."
Thailand is an example that Vietnam needs to learn about developing golf tourism. Photo: PGA Tour.

Sharing the same opinion, Mr. Do Viet Hung, Deputy General Director of FLC, commented that golf tour will be one of the main products in the problem of opening up to international tourism. However, to attract this market, the management agency needs to consider and support businesses and create more favorable conditions for international visitors.

"We think Vietnam needs to license shorter golf tour packages (4 days and 3 nights) instead of the current 7 days. In addition, we also need to adjust the price of the golf tour more accordingly and competitively compared with the general level of Southeast Asia," he said.

Another idea also given by the representative of this group is to redesign the tours to attract international tourists. For example, Quang Ninh is one of five localities eligible to welcome international guests. The province has the advantage of owning 3 golf courses and world famous landmarks.

Therefore, in order to retain international guests during their 7-day stay, Quang Ninh can combine a golf tour and a cruise to visit the bay. This can be the solution to the problem of retaining international customers.

According to estimates from the Vietnam Golf Association, there are about 60 million people in the world who play golf. This is an attractive market for Vietnam to aim for. On the other hand, the number of golfers in Vietnam is not high (about 100,000 people) but is on the increase. The system of golf courses across the country is also being invested with about 100 courses in operation. Quang Ninh is one of the most appreciated golf destinations in the country with an international standard course system.


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