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Leisure and golf, a new tourism trend

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With three 18-hole golf courses including two in the hill country and an old-established one in Colombo, Sri Lanka presents an exciting challenge for every ardent golfer. It’s with this in mind that Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) hosted a tour for golf journalist representing international publications for a unique golfing experience. 

“For a country ideally placed, the diverse topography and terrain, ensures that golfers be it amateurs or pro have an enjoyable time. Each of the four golf courses are as varied as they can be with some offering the best vistas, while others offer an exciting challenge,” said Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Managing Director of the Bureau. “Promotion of golf tourism aligns well with the national tourism strategy which seeks to position Sri Lanka as a high-value destination.” 

The journalists were flown in from Germany and Switzerland to visit golf courses in Colombo, Hambantota, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in a bid to create awareness of Sri Lanka’s golfing capacity. The Bureau is exploring the possibilities of promotion golf tourism inculcating leisure since golfers are known to be discerning travellers who take both seriously. Travellers who were in Sri Lanka were impressed by the varying topography of golf courses in Sri Lanka. The Golf course in Kandy which is set in 500 acres with a landscape beautifully cast over every undulation, peak and slope. The course was voted as one best in Asia by Asian Golf Monthly and ranked in top 100 ‘Most Beautiful Courses in the World’ by Golfers Digest. The Hambantota golf course on the other hand is the only one in the country set amid a vast coconut palm plantation, offering spectacular views and unique challenges for both casual and seasoned players.

He revealed that along with golf clubs, the tourism body was looking at considered to be high net worth individuals. It is also envisaged that the familiarisation tour would attract international golf tournaments in the near future. The journalists who head global renowned publications that specialise in golf played golf in Nuwara Eliya, Hambantota, and Kandy, and visited the Royal Colombo Golf Club. Accommodation was provided by Jetwing, Shangri La and Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.  “Golfers like to go to beaches and beach resorts with golf facilities, which we found here. Sri Lanka also has many cultural venues and spa attractions which is a unique selling point,” said Bernd Stegmaier, Editor-in-chief of Golfen, which has a readership of 1.5 million yearly. He also added the combination of golf and Ayurveda was a good reason for golfers to visit Sri Lanka.The other two journalists were Hans Jorg representing Sundorf which has a readership of 150,000 monthly and Elsa Maria Honecker who represents Connoisseur circle and the Golf Yearbook which are sought-after globally.  According to the Global Golf Tourism Organisation (IAGTO) there over 100,000 golfers in India and over 14 million in Asia. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau objective of Plan for 2017-2020. Promoting golfing tourism aligns with the strategy to offer positioning the country as a high-value destination is in keeping with its tourism strategic extraordinary experiences that reflect Sri Lanka’s natural and cultural heritage. It is envisaged that tourism would become Sri Lanka’s #3 foreign exchange earner with a target of $ 7 billion in 2020. 

Comprehensive feasibility and environmental assessments for integrated golf courses potential for two distinct golf circuits – mountain and coastal are being conducted and would be completed by 2019. The design, construction and operation of integrated golf course resorts are also listed as potential investment projects. 

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