Abu Dhabi: More than 250 Board and executive level sports industry representatives, including developers, investors and journalists from more than 40 countries, will be in Abu Dhabi over the next four days for The HSBC Golf Business Forum – an annual industry think tank.
At the Forum, which is being held at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, leading figures from the international golf community will gather to debate topics central to the future of the sport’s commercial development.
Among the participants will be Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) Board members Richard Walne (Toro), John Holmes(Atlas Turf), Mark Adams (IMG) and Shoumo Mitra (Syngenta). Also present will be AGIF Chief Communications Officer Spencer Robinson who will be moderating a panel session about golf in Asia.
High on the conference agenda will be sustainable development, design and construction, tourism, sponsorship and events.
The Forum will put Abu Dhabi’s own golf offering into the industry spotlight with its supporter, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) preparing to outline to delegates the emirate’s case as a preferred golfing destination buoyed by an advancing ‘Beyond the Fairways’ offering.
“Increasingly golf tour operators are saying a destination’s off-course offering can have as much impact on golfing vacation choice as its greens and fairways,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director Tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi. “With a rapidly developing tourism offering and highly diverse world-class golf product, Abu Dhabi is now well positioned to make its mark in this very lucrative sector.”
International inbound golf tourism to the emirate continues to grow year-on-year, with tourism stakeholders working in unison to attract discerning travellers via the Government-driven Golf in Abu Dhabi initiative. With the mantra: ‘Where business is done’, the destination has also become a major commercial centre, attracting important events similar to the upcoming HSBC Golf Business Forum.
“Since the introduction of Golf in Abu Dhabi, we have benefited from a collective destination approach,” said Chris Card, Group General Manager, Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. “We work with our national airline, Etihad Airways, tour operators around the world, hotels and local handlers to give consumers a clear and concise purchase process, and operate educational initiatives in both trade and consumer media to communicate Abu Dhabi’s appeal.”
The Golf in Abu Dhabi initiative has been hailed a great success by industry experts, who have acknowledged how the co-ordination of a parent organisation can increase synergies among tourism stakeholders.
According to Bruce Glasco, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Troon International Operations, Golf in Abu Dhabi’s vision, and the decision to host the HSBC Golf Business Forum, are further demonstrations of the myriad economic benefits of golf.
He said: “Developing a destination’s tourism focus with golf requires a specialised approach: understanding traveller and trading nuances within markets, but also increasing the volume of golf travellers looking for a world-class experience. The team behind Golf in Abu Dhabi has achieved a significant amount in a short space of time, convincing wider tourism stakeholders as to the benefits of golf tourism.
“The increase in inbound golfers speaks for itself, as does the decision to host industry captains for the Golf Business Forum. Bringing the powers that be to Abu Dhabi will showcase the emirate and their following endorsements will add significant value to its reputation as a leading golfing destination.”
While in Abu Dhabi, Forum delegates will experience hospitality at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa and play golf at two of the emirate’s award-winning golf clubs: Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Yas Links. Golf in Abu Dhabi ambassador, Italian golfer Matteo Manassero will be the Forum’s special guest.