About Me

header ads

Golf Tourism is Finally a Government Priority!


I've been a proponent for Philippine golf tourism for the last decade. Under the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., the Department of Tourism created an office (finally!) to oversee the development of golf tourism. Under Director Lyle Fernando Uy, the office organized the First Philippine Golf Tourism Summit which was attended by golf tourism stakeholders. I was asked to speak about the potential of the industry in the country. The following is the text of that speech. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor and a pleasure to address you all today. Before I begin, I’d like to express my profound thanks to DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and to DOT Director for Golf Tourism and Special Programs Lyle Uy for the opportunity to address you today.

My passion for golf tourism began a decade ago when I attended the Asian Golf Tourism Convention in Pattaya, Thailand. That opened my eyes to the reach of golf tourism and the possibilities for the Philippines.

The global golf tourism market size is expected to achieve a remarkable valuation of US$ 23.1 Billion in 2023. It is anticipated to reach a market valuation of US$ 40.4 Billion by the end of 2033 while exhibiting a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 5.8% in the next ten years. (Add the net effect of the total spending of golf tourists 220B in 2013 to 250B in 2018)

The growth of the global market is primarily fueled by the rising number of international and domestic tournaments across the globe, substantial spending on the set-up of enhanced sporting infrastructure, and a massive rise in the number of professional and amateur golfers across the globe. In addition, sports authorities and governments all over the world are organizing domestic and international golf tournaments and making heavy investments to attract golfers and expand the local economy.

It is sad to note that the Philippines receives little to none of this income and is largely unknown as a golfing destination. This was highlighted when the Philippines hosted the Asian Golf Tourism Convention in April of 2018. A record number of delegates from all over the globe made their way to the country to find out all they could about us, up to this point, an obscure player in the industry. Such was the interest in the Philippines as an emerging golf market.

The growth of golf in the Philippines followed a model that is largely incompatible with the exploding global golf tourism industry - our best golf courses are all private clubs and thus largely inaccessible to the global golf tourist. Furthermore, the varying policies adopted by each club further complicates foreign locators’ desire to do business here. It’s just too much work for a foreign locator to make a hundred different deals with a hundred different golf clubs. 

That’s not to say that our system is unworkable. Thailand, by comparison, has around 250 golf courses and most of them are also privately owned and operated. But outside of a few exclusive, members-only golf clubs, you can get access to most golf courses in Thailand. Only around 150 courses are up to international standards and suitable for visiting tourists. (roughly 5x of the potential international class courses here)

Further, the playing conditions of most Philippine golf courses fall short of the standards set by our competitors in the Asia Pacific region. A quick trip to the best courses in South East Asia makes this painstakingly clear. Upgrades to our infrastructure will be imperative to ensure our courses are competitive.

We have some truly beautiful courses, but it will take more than a few spectacular layouts on which to build an industry. It’s going to take all the stakeholders - the government, the golf clubs and their management, and the local travel agencies working together to fix these issues and present the new golfing Philippines as a viable product to the world. (Draw comparisons with the Philippines and Vietnam here)

How do we get this done?

This summit is a great start. It signifies the commitment of the Philippine government and the department of tourism to make this a reality.

The government, for its part, needs to offer incentives for clubs that choose to participate in the Philippine golf tourism initiative. In return, the clubs need to commit to A. make tee times available for tourists and B. to improve the playing conditions of their courses to bring them up to international standards. 

The rest is about refining the Philippine experience using the abundant gifts that our country has to offer to make a unique and lasting impression on our guests. 

Once we have these fundamentals in place and golfers start to make their way to the Philippines, we should consider further investments in infrastructure that will increase our capacity to host tourists from around the globe. 

It may be slow going at first, but it will be well worth it in the end. We need to remember that the golf tourist spends 150% of what the average tourist does on a daily basis. The potential income that the country and all of us here today stand to earn and the trickle-down effect on our economy, makes this an endeavor worthy of our time and effort. 

Thank you so much for your time and attention. I look forward to working with the Department of Tourism and the local golf industry, serving in any capacity that’s required to make the Philippines a viable golf destination.

God bless us all.