Over the years, the popularity of golf tourism has rapidly emerged. Golf is said to be the world’s top individual sport, so it is not really a surprise that people travel just to play golf. Usually it is for the sake of gaining valuable experiences or entering golf tournaments. Golf is a sport that is played in over 208 countries, including Malaysia. Therefore, many countries see this as an opportunity for them to seek profits towards strengthening the economy. Most countries try their best to build and enhance their golf clubs with multiple choices of interesting golf courses to attract international tourists. They also often compete towards becoming the host for major golf events.
In Malaysia, the State of Selangor is one of the most active states in promoting golf tourism. There are about 29 golf clubs in Selangor with ample golf courses registered with Tourism Selangor. Golf tourism is easy to promote in this state because the state itself is a perfect place for golfers to enjoy wonderful local activities while they travel for golf; hence, it is the best of both worlds. There are various natural and man-made attractions in the state, offering both rural and city visits. Besides, visitors can swiftly travel into the state as it is known as the Gateway of Malaysia for becoming the home to the largest international airport and seaport in Malaysia; KLIA and Port Klang, respectively.
The efforts to promote golf tourism by Tourism Selangor began in the year 2014. The State Tourism Promotion Board began its journey in supporting a large number of golf events held in Selangor in that particular year. Some of the earliest golf events supported by Tourism Selangor were the Selangor Masters 2014, PGM ADT Maybank Championship 2018, 46th Selangor Amateur Open 2019 and 1st Tourism Selangor Corporate Golf Tournament 2019.
For instance, the PGM ADT Maybank Championship 2018 event was a success as it managed to attract a large number of international golfers. Selangor even became the first state to broadcast professional golf programmes on national television. In addition, the event has proven the capability of the State of Selangor in hosting international golf events.
Following the success of the tournament, Tourism Selangor once again extended support to 46th Selangor Golf Amateur Open 2019 which took place at Lake Golf Club, Bangi. The event saw participation from local and foreign amateur golfers which also managed to further promote Selangor as the leading golf hub in Malaysia. The competition was described as spectacular. It was attended by 500 guests alongside 160 domestic and international golfers.
In the same year, Tourism Selangor reached a milestone by organising its own golf championship, the Tourism Selangor Corporate Golf Tournament 2019. Tourism Selangor had collaborated with key industry players and travel agencies, as well as Selangor’s State Government and corporate bodies to make certain the tournament’s success, including securing sponsorships from Kowamas and MITA for the event. Tourism Selangor aims to make it a signature annual event in Selangor’s tourism calendar for many years to come.
Golf tourism is undeniably one of the most profitable tourism sectors as golf tourists spend three times more than regular vacationers, in reference to the data provided by Asian Golf in 2011. This is because most golfers are among medium and high-income travellers. The total revenue targeted by 2021 for Malaysia golf tourism is 44.6 billion USD. As such, various parties including Tourism Selangor and industry players are looking forward to work together in hosting more golf-related events.
Numerous golf events have been planned out in Selangor in 2020 prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the pandemic has taken a toll on the tourism industry on a global scale, many golf events that are scheduled to take place in Selangor have been postponed or cancelled. Two of the planned golf events affected by the pandemic are the Selangor Golf Classic 2020 and the 2nd Tourism Selangor Corporate Golf Tournament 2020. Meanwhile, Asian Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC 2020) which was supposed to take place in March has been cancelled to ensure the safety of the registered golf buyers and sellers as well as to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Selangor.
After more than three months hiatus, golf clubs in Selangor are back in operation imposing tight Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure the safety of the golfers. Members are required to check in and non-members need to fill in Health Declaration Forms. Both members and non-members must undergo a mandatory health screening. Additionally, separation plastics are installed in all buggies, only 4 golfers are allowed on the tee box. Golfers ought to assure one metre distance when queuing and starter huts are not open for seating. These SOPs are imposed to guarantee that golf clubs will be back in business, with an emphasis on safety and cleanliness. Some golf clubs in Selangor such as Kota Permai Golf & Country Club have also taken extra precautionary measures with the introduction of “contactless ball extractors”.
Tourism Selangor’s General Manager, Mr. Azrul Shah bin Mohamad in a statement said, “Tourism industry players such as hotel and product operators, and Travel Agencies are encouraged to acknowledge the vast potential golf tourism poses towards their businesses. Following the aspiration, Tourism Selangor will strengthen its promotional initiatives in branding the State of Selangor as the premier, leading golf hub in Malaysia”.
In conclusion, golf tourism is a branch of tourism that should not be taken lightly. All tourism industry players including Travel Agencies need to work hand-in-hand to foster golf tourism in Selangor. The development of vacation packages to Selangor which involve golfing at award-winning golf clubs and golf courses will surely attract domestic and international golfers; boosting the state’s economy.