Golf tourism in Africa

May 12, 2017

Known as the nature’s most endowed continent, Africa boasts of diverse natural settings, famed for its hospitality industry, and home to more than five hundred golf courses with a wide variety of layouts and no doubt countries like South Africa, Mauritius and Tanzania wants to become Africa’€™s top golfing destination. Several countries are positioning themselves as a golfing destination under a new push by the tourism industry.Some of Africa’s top courses have teamed with Tourism agencies for the marketing drive, with hopes others will join in the future.Africa countries are well placed to tap into the tourism potential of golf and grab a bigger share of the multi-million dollar market.Golf is a hugely popular sport in African cities with around 3 million golfers playing on more than 1,000 different courses around Africa each year and, according to a report in 2016, contributing around $5 billion to Africa’s economy.South Africa currently boast six of the Africa’s top 20 courses, as well as many others which are located in iconic and distinctly African settings like Mauritius and Tanzania, which offer up real tourism potential. Some African countries definitely see an opportunity to build golf into the holiday experience, particularly by tapping into those overseas markets that love their golf.Relying on the quality of African golfing product alone is not enough to establish the continent as an international golf tourism destination.In order for African countries to establish themselves as one of the leading golf destinations, they must continue to drive the buzz that has been created around Africa in recent years.Successful marketing, promotion and distribution of African Golf product to the international market is vital if African countries are to gain a great share of the golf tourism market pie.Combining the marketing and distribution offered by various partnerships, African countries can establish Africa as one of the best truly great golfing destinations.Kenya and Nigeria recently added golf to the category of special interest tourism that will be further developed and promoted in a bid to attract foreign golfers. The number of golf tourists is not as many as regular tourists, but this is a niche high yield market.

Kenya and Nigeria are working with the private sector to upgrade their golf courses and participate in golf trade shows and regularly hold tournaments to promote their countries as golf destinations.The biggest challenge faced by golf tourism promoters is that very few courses have met international standards. However some of the courses are back-dropped by mountains like the golf course in Moshi Tanzania, oceans like Diani in Mombasa Kenya, lakes like Entebbe Golf Course in Uganda, forests like Karen Golf course and city skylines like Kampala Golf course, strengthening Africa’€™s position as a golf destination.According to data available, global golf tourism market is worth over US$25 billion and an estimated 6 million people travel overseas annually for the main purpose of playing golf. However, Africa only gets 1% of this. But with latest drive, African countries are poised to attract a good number of these golf travellers in the years to come with South Africa, Mauritius and Kenya expected to lead in raking in millions of dollars.In Kenya and South Africa, data available shows that each golfer spends between $3,000 to $6,000 during their golfing holiday in Kenya or South Africa, higher than a regular tourist who spends around $2,000.In one golf course your blogger is familiar with in South Africa, they hope to reach the target for this year because they are aggressively promoting it as a golf attraction whenever they participate in trade shows and provide incentives to several golf schools in and outside South Africa. In the case of the South African golf course they expect to bring in 400 golfers a month with a 15 percent increase year on year. One of the directors of the club who happens to be your blogger’s friend said that most of the customers were inbound leisure golfers from Asia and Europe. He said they are now seeing more interest from fellow African countries as a very big potential market and find they are interested in their club’s longer stay packages for 8 days on average with combination destinations. The hotel industry is also playing a vital role in helping African countries to jump on the golf tourism bandwagon and are collaborating with some of the best courses in order to deliver golf packages to the niche travellers. From your blogger’s fact findings, the market response is healthy with some travelers extending their stay just to play more golf.In some countries are even going an extra mile where they let any passenger bring their golf equipment at no extra charge, to attract more travelers. With some African countries being home to some of the finest courses, the future looks bright for golf tourism in the continent.

Contador Harrison