High-End Tourism Can Boost Golf’s Revival, Says Industry Veteran Ryan

Phil Ryan making a presentation at a golf seminar in Myanmar.

Singapore: An upsurge in high-end tourism can help golf clubs across Asia to get back onto their feet following the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to veteran golf course architect Phil Ryan, domestic and international tourism will be a key factor for golf clubs as they recover from losses incurred during lockdowns brought on by the Coronavirus outbreak.

During the latest podcast in an exclusive Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) series, Ryan, Founder and Principal of Pacific Coast Design (PCD), also cautioned clubs against becoming embroiled in green fee price wars.

Speaking from his native Australia, Ryan said: “If there were a vaccine available within the next few months, then a lot of what we’re hearing may just disappear. But if Covid-19 is with us into next year, then many countries may re-think a lot of what they did in the past.

“This is a wake-up call for the global community. As our societies have been advancing at such a rapid rate, issues like global warming, the environment and health tend to have been pushed into the background.

“Reading on-line regional newspapers over the past few months, which I’ve had plenty of time to do, you can see a trend of Southeast Asian countries talking more about high-end tourism, of which obviously golf is a component, and less about mass tourism.

“I think there’s an awareness now that maybe mass tourism can result in damage to the local environment as well as the obvious health risks associated with buffet dinners, bus travel and low-end accommodation. High-end tourism relies more on smaller groups or couple travel, table service dinners and longer stays. So, if these tourism authority discussions are translated into action then golf in Asia is in a good position to benefit.”

Ryan, who established PCD in 1986 and has sculpted golf courses in Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam, said we’re likely to see an increase in mid to high-end travel from Europe and the United States to Asia.

He said: “This will, in turn, translate into more rounds for golf courses that are set up for such tourists. Countries like Thailand and Vietnam, for example, have clearly demonstrated that they have systems that can result in low infection rates. This is attracting a lot of interest in Europe and the United States, while other more regional tourist destinations have had significant outbreaks of Covid-19.

“Many of the golf courses across Asia will need to re-think how they operate and also consider facilities, service and condition to attract the new-age of tourist arrivals rather than just keep lowering green fees to attract golfers, which they’ve tended to do in the past.

“Local markets are going to be maintained but the all-important tourist dollar is going to be a little bit different and I think golf courses and golf clubs need to be aware of that and try and set themselves up for it.”

*To listen to the full interview with Phil Ryan, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/

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