Lake Como, Italy: China’s southernmost city of Sanya has been named Golf Destination of the Year for Asia and Australasia by global golf tourism industry organisation IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators).
The honour was bestowed on Sanya in the annual IAGTO Awards, which took place at a gala dinner attended by 1,400 golf industry professionals on the final night of the 2014 International Golf Travel Market.
The awards are the benchmark accolades for the golf tourism industry and the five Golf Destination of the Year winners – for North America, Latin America, Europe, and Africa and the Gulf States, in addition to Asia and Australasia – are voted for by IAGTO’s 500-plus golf tour operator members, from over 60 countries.
Criteria they are asked to consider are: Customer Satisfaction; Quality of Golf Courses & Accommodation; Value for Money; Professional Conduct of Suppliers; Support from the Local Tourism Industry; and Accessibility to Tee Times.
China has become a focal point for golf in recent years, and with central Government support for helping to develop Hainan Island into China’s golf epicentre, the spotlight has fallen heavily on Sanya as the province’s only tropical resort.
In the last decade or so, Sanya has been making great efforts to boost its golf tourism industry, and a series of seasonal promotional activities have been organised to expand into overseas markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Korea and Thailand.
Sanya now has 13 golf courses out of around 50 courses on Hainan Island and all of them are within a one-hour drive from Luhuitou Peninsula in the city centre to Yalong Bay, the mountains around Baoting and along the coast to Haitang Bay.
Sanya’s golf courses appeal to all levels of golfer, from beginners up to professional players and they include the Yalong Bay Golf Club course designed by Robert Trent Jones II, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Speaking about the Golf Destination of the Year Award, Tang Sixian, Deputy Director of Sanya Tourism Development Commission, said: “It is a very special moment for Sanya to receive the recognition of IAGTO Golf Tour Operators as the Asia Golf Destination of the Year.
“Sanya has long been recognised in Asia as China’s tropical paradise, but the incredible quality of our many golf courses, which are all within easy reach of our spectacular beaches and five-star hotels, is now attracting golf travellers from all continents.”
Sanya Tourism Association Executive Chairman Michel Goget, who is General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya, said: “As the only tropical island in China, Sanya features amazing golf clubs and world-famous, internationally-branded resorts.
“This past April, we hosted 100 international golf tour operators in Sanya and they were blown away by the combined experience of top quality golfing, luxurious hotels and superb cuisine, which was topped off by Sanya’s amazing beaches and truly tropical flavour that visitors are often surprised to find in China.”