15 June 2016
Golf Promotion The Thai Way
There are various ways to attract tourists to a country and golf is among the most popular. The Tourism Authority of Thailand organizes many golf events to draw foreign visitors to its country. Golf has become one of the major contributors to the country’s tourism revenue.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is the government’s tourism agency and is responsible for creating various programs to attract foreign tourists to play golf in the country, among other things. One such program they have developed is "The Asian Friendship Golf Open TAT." This year’s event, the fourth of its kind, managed to bring in more than 130 golfers from six big cities in Asia: Guangzhou, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, and Jakarta. TAT’s representatives coordinated with tour operators from each city to enable them to invite the golfers.
The tournament was held at Rancho Charnvee Resort & Country Club, Khao Yai, on March 31st, 2016. Before the event, participants played a practice round at Mountain Creek Golf Resort & Residence on March 30th. A few tour operators also added their own additional playing schedules for their guests before and after TAT’s two-day golf event.
TAT’s representative for Jakarta, Leo Jayanegara, said the idea behind organizing the "international" tournaments is to raise the country’s profile as a golf destination, "The Thailand Government is trying to promote and cultivate the image that golf is a cheap sport in the country." Leo also added that TAT’s effort wouldn’t succeed without the support of the golf course and other members of the hospitality industry.
This year, the fourth edition of the event was held in Khao Yai area. “Khao Yai is located in Pak Chong district. It has Khao Yai national park, the largest and first national park of Thailand, and is an ASEAN World Heritage site because of its variety of flora and fauna. It also has five golf courses, 3 vineyards, and a winery [where] you can purchase various products offered, such as their premium wines, grape juice, jams cookies, and other products,” said the Director of TAT.
Each year, TAT organizes the tournament in a different location. This introduction and promotion of a new tourist area within Thailand each year has become the main purpose of the tournament. This year, in addition to enjoying the golf courses at Khao Yai, all the participants were able to discover the tourist sites around the region.
The Asian Friendship Golf Open is not the only golf event that TAT organizes. “Every year many tournaments are held by TAT head office in different places. In addition, the TAT branch office in each province also have [their own] golf event agendas. Although some agendas of TAT branches are sometimes held together, it does have an impact for foreign tourists. They get some options to play golf,” explained Leo. He added that the program motivates TAT branch offices to be more creative by finding new and more interesting ways in which to organize their events.
The efforts of TAT are a major factor in why Thailand has become one of the most popular destinations for golf tourist in Asia, and particularly in Southeast Asia. They believe in the high potential of golf tourism and the ability it has to generate revenue for the country. Just how did they begin to establish such a successful initiative which generates so much income? "The Government’s willingness is the key to the development of the golf tourism,” said Leo.