INDIA is pushing golf tourism with the inaugural Incredible India Golf Tourism Summit, to be held from October 8 to 10 in Delhi NCR.
The event is jointly organised by India’s Ministry of Tourism, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as India Golf Tourism Association. Specialist golf tourism operators from 30 countries will be invited as hosted buyers to interact with India’s golf course owners, tour operators, hotels and airlines.
Apart from 12 hours of business meetings, the event will comprise knowledge sessions, Golf Tourism Awards, Incredible India Golf Tournament and familiarisation trips.
Parvez Dewan, secretary - Tourism, Government of India, said: “Golf tourism as a niche but important segment is growing at 9.3 per cent annually. An estimated 1.6 million golfers travel around the world. The oldest golf courses outside of the UK are in India.”
Dewan added that while Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong are golf-playing countries, shortage of golf courses and long waiting time for approval of membership are problems they face.
Brandon De Souza, president of golf event organiser Tiger Sports Marketing, said: “Increasingly, tourists visiting India are seeking a round or two of golf. Since India does not have any public courses, we have to arrange the game with private clubs upon payment of green fees and guest charges.
“Even then it is a fraction of the cost in other countries. The redeeming feature is that being private golf clubs, the courses are of very high quality as various professional tournaments are hosted here.”
Anand Kumar, joint secretary - Tourism, Government of India, opined that India’s strategic location, domestic and international connectivity, competitive pricing, ability of its citizens to communicate in English, are key advantages as a golf destination.
Kumar added: “The Ministry of Tourism cannot do this alone. Private stakeholders have to join in to realise the potential.”
Koushik Goswami, general manager of Kolkata-based Travelcorp, said: “Kolkata has the oldest golf club outside the British Isles and a long golfing tradition with three great golf courses and one more being built.
“We get guests from Japan, South Korea and China keen to play two or three rounds of golf even during a very short stay. To compete as a golfing destination is very tough, as incentives offered and efforts made by golf tourism havens like Malaysia and Thailand are a hard act to follow.”