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Golf to raise Western Cape`s tourism shares

Golf is helping the Western Cape position itself as the premier tourist destination in the three crucial years leading to the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and beyond that, as tourism and hospitality play a…

Golf is helping the Western Cape position itself as the premier tourist destination in the three crucial years leading to the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and beyond that, as tourism and hospitality play a larger role in economic growth and transformation.

That’s the view of Calvyn Gilfellan, Acting Chief Executive of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the official tourism destination marketing organisation for Cape Town and the Western Cape, speaking at a gala dinner marking the close of the 1st National Festival of Golf at Fancourt in George.

“Events like this underscore the growing reputation of the Western Cape and specifically of the Garden Route as a prime golf tourism drawcard and a major asset in our tourism offering to amateur players and pros.

Attesting to this is the fact that this year’s festival has been held on no fewer than 12 world-class golf courses, designed by pros like Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els to test the skills of the world’s best players. It’s provided an opportunity for golfers to savour the area’s rich golfing culture and our caddies’ excellent local knowledge, to mingle with clients, friends, family and celebrities, win prizes and be entertained, all in a setting that offers excellent value for money and plenty of attractions for non-golfing partners and families.

But underpinning all this is our mandate to encourage visitors to stay longer, visit more often, see more of the province, spend more, and visit throughout the year. There’s arguably no better showcase for settings in which to do these things than these courses: Fancourt, Pezula, Oubaai, Simola Estate, Pinnacle Point Golf, Club Goose Valley, the George and Mossel Bay golf clubs and the Plettenberg Bay Country Club.

The Cape Garden Route was named the 2006 Golf Destination of the Year for Africa and the Middle East at the International Golf Travel Market in Spain last year. The award is made annually by IAGTO, the Global Trade Organisation for the Golf Tourism Industry. Beating top destinations like Dubai and Mauritius amongst others, the award was a milestone for golf tourism in the Garden Route and Western Cape province.

Last year’s National Festival of Golf saw about 850 golfers playing 2 600 rounds of golf on 11 courses. This year those figures will be even higher, so it’s hard to imagine a destination with more to offer. In the time window leading up to 2010 we’ll be showcasing these assets with events like this, which fit seamlessly with our marketing strategy that aims to ensure the 2010 FIFA World helps make the province one of the world’s premier tourism destinations.”

“The rich golfing culture and mild, temperate climate offers a unique, year-round experience with capability to host major events. Added to the reputation for hospitality and service, it made a truly world-class golfing destination,” said Gilfellan.

While the Western Cape’s golf offering is playing its part to position the province as a ‘must see’ for tourists in the run-up to 2010, Gilfellan furthered outlined a series of partnerships to draw new visitors from 17 key soccer-playing countries up to and during 2010, as well as the destination marketing organisation’s Host Campaign, which focuses on tourism operators, media and other stakeholders. Its Extended Stay Campaign encourages travel to the Western Cape before, after and during the soccer tournament, which is seen as the best possible opportunity to promote the destination to billions around the world.

“The new strategy aims to capitalise on the unsurpassed media exposure of the biggest sporting and media event on the planet to ensure that by 2020 Cape Town and the Western Cape are among the world’s top 10 destinations. This will be measured by visitor numbers and economic impact, specifically the industry’s pivotal role in social and economic change in the province, which could help elevate the Western Cape a globally favoured place to work, invest and live, with an environment where all can attain livelihoods and dignity,” said Gilfellan.

He noted that there are around 57 million golfers worldwide – no less than one percent of the world’s population – who have access to about 31 000 golf courses. It’s a huge market that is available to destinations that have the right offering, making it crucial to constantly stay at the top of the game.