What can a hosting country gain from an international golf championship?

By: August 13, 2009

I was very excited to read a month ago in the newsletter of the Hungarian Golf Association that Hungary will host the XXVIII. European Senior Golf Championship and Cup between 17-22 August. Senior golf players of 22 European countries will participate in the competition. The newsletter asked also to volunteer in various tasks in the organization. I accepted their request without hesitation. This event came in the very best moment when the Hungarian golf courses are suffering from lack of players and people are thinking about golf as an elite/snobbish sport. I started to ponder about the increments of such an event beyond the perception of the sport. How it can help/boost the Hungarian tourism and economy.

The general knowledge about Hungary is Puskás, Goulash, Budapest and Lake Balaton. Thus such championship can show to foreigners that they can find quality golf courses. Thus golf could turn to be a compelling reason why to stay longer in Hungary (the number of nights that foreigners are spending in Hungary declined cca. 3-5% between 2007-2008) or why to choose Hungary. The country can be even more attractive for Western European or American tourist since Forint, the Hungarian currency is pretty weak in comparison with the Euro and USD.

Therefore I supposed that the Hungarian National Tourism Office together with organizers will launch a communication campaign (as they promised in their Marketing strategy for 2009). Up to this moment we cannot find any press release/ad in the International press (offline & online) nor in the Hungarian about the championship. After a while it came to my mind that may be they have no budget (due to budget cuts, what I experienced in my company where we have similar clients) for this.  So, as a golf fan I tweeted the Hungarian National Tourism Office PR manager on Twitter about the event plus mentioned it in different places (e.g. LinkedIn.com).

The utilization and implementation of social media in media mixes and strategies are essential when you have limited budget. This is the way how you can spread your communication message to a far broader audience  building on the power of word of mouth. This is what the organizers missed so far, but they correct their mistakes/lags during the championship. I hope more people will discover Hungary to play golf.