What is the future of the Philippines as a golf destination?

By: March 13, 2018

In 2017, R&A ‘s “Golf around the world” report found and listed 105 golf clubs in the Philippines (versus 240 in Thailand, 183 in Malaysia, 161 in Indonesia, 128 in Myanmar). This is an 11.7% growth since 2015.

The country attracted 6.8 million tourists in 2017, up 15% on the 2016 performance (source: Philippines’s Department of Tourism). The Philippines seriously lags behind Indonesia, (15 million), Malaysia (31.8 million) and Thailand (35.58 million) and Singapore (16.4 million). At the same time, the country performs better than Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei.

IAGTO, Chief Executive, Peter Walton said about the Philippines: “As an emerging golf destination, only 21% of our 424 golf tour operators selling golf vacations to Asia feature the Philippines.

Now the Philippines will host the region’s annual gathering of golf tourism professionals, the IAGTO organized Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC), between 22-25 April 2018.

As part of the event, 215 golf tour operators from 35 countries will participate in the largest series of golf familiarization tours ever undertaken in Asia.

Philippines Tourism Promotion Board Chief Operating Officer Cesar Montano is expecting an impetus for Philippine golf tourism and our other sports industries.

IAGTO-Asia-Golf-Tourism-Convention in Philippines

This will be the program of the invited golf tour operators:

  • Visiting the three main golf destinations: Tagaytay Highlands, Clark-Angeles City, and Boracay Island.
  • Will experience golf in Manila itself at the iconic Southwoods (has got 2 Jack Nicklaus golf courses) and Wack Wack (built in 1930) golf clubs during the AGTC Golf Tournament.
  • Two days of meetings between seller companies and organizations across Asia – including destination tourist boards, golf resorts, golf clubs, hotels, transportation companies and other golf tourism service providers – and the golf tour operator buyers.

My recommendations to the Philippines to boost inbound golf tourism:

  • Think about how can you provide one-off experience to golf tourists that they cannot find and get elsewhere. This can also facilitate word-of-mouth promotion of the Philippines as an attractive golf destination. There is a spending shift from products toward experiences.
  • Make sure that:
    • your website is informative with all the most important information + mobile friendly (49% of direct online booking is now made on mobile);
    • your offers are well presented on review sites;
    • it is easy to find and book golf holidays on your website (it is also true for golf tour operators).
  • Don’t forget that the modern travel consumer is always-on and connected.
  • Embrace health-conscious customers. Health and wellness are huge opportunities for golf resorts as well. They can contribute significantly to the golf travel experience.
  • Integrate local attractions and activities into the general golf holiday offers. The golf experience will not be enough to impress your guests.
  • Consider utilizing voice technology, for instance for concierge services. Wynn Las Vegas was first to install Alexa devices in December 2017. Marriott is already considering to adopt this technology in one or more of its chains as early as mid-2018.
  • Provide real-time and accurate information to your guests to be able to make a better decision and have a much pleasant golf holiday.