Golf Tourism Grows in Southeast Asia

A leading Southeast Asian golf tour operator has reported a 23% increase in turnover for the 12-month period ending last month. The boost in golf holiday traffic runs counter to the largely sluggish demand in global tourism. It also belies the negative travel perceptions prompted by Thailand’s ongoing political disquiet.

Bangkok-based Golfasian has expanded its headquarters in the Thai capital and established satellite operations in the Thai cities of Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket. It has also founded beachheads in Saigon and Hanoi, Vietnam; Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“This expansion will further enhance the company’s service reputation and market-leading position with Asian golfers and travel agents, but also with golfers and our new partners in North America and Europe,” says Mark Siegel, managing director at Golfasian.

Most companies in the region were complaining about drops in arrivals. Many had cut their marketing expenditures. Golfasian, instead, actually increased its spending. “By reaching out to overseas agents and golfing clients, we’ve been able to convince them of the tremendous value of our golf tours, especially multi-destination tours and those which combine golf and cultural travel,” Siegel says.

Siegel believes that Golfasian’s growth over the last 12 months has resulted in part from a major marketing push in Australia, Canada, and the United States. It was launched in cooperation with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Both Australia and North America had been essentially untapped by Southeast Asian golf tour operators until now.

Golfers in Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States have long been aware that golf course development was booming in the Far East. What’s they weren’t aware of was the other attractions that the region had to offer. “They’re only now realizing just how good the golf courses really are here in Asia, how high the standard of resort accommodation is, and how affordable they both are by Western standards,” Siegel says.

Pictured: Black Mountain Masters