Golf tourism to Vietnam is on course to become a billion-dollar business by 2020.
Speaking at an Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF)-organised Club Management Mini Summit in Ho Chi Minh City, golf tourism expert Mark Siegel predicted a flourishing future for the country’s inbound golf tourism industry.
Although the sport is still in its infancy in Vietnam, Siegel, Owner and Managing Director of Golfasian, one of Asia’s most prominent golf tour companies, painted a rosy picture during his presentation at the Summit where Growing Golf Tourism in Vietnam was the central theme.
There are currently 35 golf courses open for play in Vietnam while another 60 are under construction or in the planning stage. As such, Vietnam is one of the most active areas in the world for new golf course development with much of the growth centred in cities such as Danang, Hoi An, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
And the opening of new courses in prime locations, said Siegel, will help to further fuel Vietnam’s popularity as a bona fide destination among international golfers.
Speaking to a mixture of club managers and industry professionals, Siegel said that Vietnam golf tourism currently accounts for 0.5% of inbound tourism, compared to 2% in Thailand. In 2016, that equated to 50,000 golfing tourists to Vietnam compared to 650,000 to Thailand.
By focusing efforts on promoting golfing at its beach destinations, in particular, Siegel believes Vietnam can quickly make inroads into the imbalance with its neighbouring country.
With golfing tourists spending three times more than general tourists, Siegel said it’s a realistic proposition that Vietnam could break the US$1 billion barrier in golf tourism revenue by 2020.
Siegel, who founded ‘Golf Coast Vietnam’, a destination marketing organisation which promotes Vietnam’s best golf courses to the world, said: “We could well see the number of golfing tourists to Vietnam increase threefold to 150,000 (1.5% of all tourists to the country) by 2020.
Following his keynote presentation, Siegel joined a panel discussion that also included Nguyễn Xuân Bình, Deputy Director, Danang Tourism Department, Ben Styles, Vice President of Golf and Residential Development – Hoi An South Development Ltd, and Ian Cording, Chief Operating Officer at Vinpearl Golf.
Eric Lynge, the AGIF’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “It’s well know that Vietnam has been the fastest-growing golfing market in Asia over the last few years. The expansion, which has the support of the Government, is aimed at promoting golf for the domestic market with an additional focus on international tourism.
“It was fascinating to listen to the insights of Mark and his fellow panellists … and encouraging to hear such great optimism for the future of golf tourism in Vietnam.”