Golf Tourism to become a strength of Vietnamese tourism sector
Update: Dec 22, 2021
Golf Tourism is known as a type of sport tourism that combines the play of golf with other activities of sightseeing, exploring and relaxing at various destinations.

Golf legend Grag Norman experiencing the most beautiful par 3 golf course of Vietnam in Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province (Photo: FLC)

Unlike traditional tourists, guests participating in golf tourism often come and return many times over. In addition to the fee for playing golf, they have to pay for high-class hotel and restaurant services. Therefore, the development of golf tourism not only helps diversify the products towards improving the tourism sector’s competitiveness, but also attracts visitors with high spending ability with long-term stays to stimulate the luxury segment. This is also a type suitable for the current period of COVID-19 prevention and control because it meets safety criteria, ensuring safe distance and avoiding mass gatherings. These are the reasons why many countries identify golf tourism as a “hen laying golden eggs” of the green economy.

At a recent seminar themed “Golf Tourism – a new advantage for Vietnam to attract international visitors” in Quang Ninh province, the experts agreed that Vietnam is a potential market of this type of tourism. According to Chairman of Vietnam Golf Tourism Association Nguyen Van Linh, Vietnam has four advantages for the development of golf tourism: a favourable geographical position; potential of culture and people; the diversity of cuisine; and the development of golf course infrastructure. There are now nearly 100 golf courses in operation, 30 of which meet regional and international standards. Most of the courses have been constructed with modern designs in beautiful locations which are attached to resorts along northern, central and southern regions.

In addition, the number of golfers in Vietnam has been increasing. General Director of VGS Media-Golf News Nguyen Hoang Minh said during 2019-2020, the number of golfers was about 26,000. This figure increased to 51,000 in 2021 despite the impact of the pandemic. Passing a series of “weighty” competitors such as Dubai, the US, New Zealand, China, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Thailand and Malaysia, Vietnam was honoured as the “World's Best Golf Destination” in 2019 and 2021 and named “Asia's Best Golf Destination” for 5 consecutive years (from 2017 to 2021) according to the votes conducted by World Golf Awards, the most prestigious one of this kind in the world. They proved that Vietnam’s golf tourism is fully capable and competitive to attract tourists both in the domestic and international markets.

However, according to the experts, in order to really position itself on the world’s golf tourism map, Vietnam should exploit this type of tourism more professionally to be worthy of its potential. General Secretary of the Vietnam Golf Association Le Hung Nam noted that Thailand is a leading golf destination of Southeast Asia, with the number of international golf players accounting for 9 percent of visitors each year. Meanwhile, this rate is very low (only 1 percent) in Vietnam.

Explaining this, Director of Vietfoot Travel Company Pham Duy Nghia stressed that Vietnam has not had travel companies specialising in golf tourism. While other countries such as Thailand and Malaysia have formed good-priced package tours associated with golf tourism thanks to the support from the government, the system of hotels, restaurants, and travel service providers, Vietnam still lacks policies to facilitate the development of professional golf. Besides, the linkage between golf course management units and tour operators has been loose, so there have not been unique golf tourism products and international tourists have faced difficulties in finding information about tours associated with this type of sport.

Visitors participating in golf tourism not only play golf but also enjoy the traveling experience at their destinations. Therefore, Director of Quang Ninh provincial Department of Tourism Pham Ngoc Thuy said in addition to improving the golf courses, it is crucial to combine golf playing with other travel activities of the localities’ strengths, towards the difference and attraction in terms of culture and experience. Vietnam should also focus on organising both professional and amateur golf tournaments, seminars and training courses to attract more golfers and tourists who are really interested in this sport from the country and abroad.

According to Deputy General Director of FLC Group Do Viet Hung, the Vietnam Golf Association should give support to the promotion and connection of golf courses to create a golf belt and tour route between many destinations towards increasing the experience for tourists. Many experts emphasised that Vietnam needs to adjust the prices of golf tours to ensure the competitiveness compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

Deputy Director General of the National Administration of Tourism Ha Van Sieu said it is essential to strengthen the application of scientific and technological advances to boost the exchanges and connections among golf clubs. The localities should also help travel companies connect with golf courses, thereby expanding golf tourism between the destinations, he added. “In the near future, we must quickly and confidently promote golf tourism to further attract visitors. If we do not seize the opportunities, we will lose them and tourists can look to other places”, said Sieu.

Dac Linh
Translated by NDO

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