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Friday April 6, 2012

Malaysia set to be a golf haven for tourists

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is set to be a golf haven for tourists.

There will be two major golf events this month which are set to draw the attention of the world and both the Malaysia Golf Tourism Association (MGTA) and Tourism Malaysia are ready to cash in on it.

The first one is the prestigious US$2.5mil Maybank Malaysian Open, which will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club from April 22-25. The tournament is set to be a big hit as it features five Major champions as well as a strong cast from the European nations.

Some of the big names who have been confirmed by the Malaysian Golf Associaiton (MGA) so far are Michael Campbell (2005 US champion), Todd Hamilton (2004 Open winner), Martin Kaymer (PGA Championships winner), Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open champion) and Charl Schwartzel (last year’s Masters champion) plus a host of other top European and Asian names.

The second one is the inaugural Asia Golf Tourism Convention, which will take place at The Palace of the Golden Horses from April 22-25.

The convention will offer about 140 golf tour operators from all over the world a chance to witness the wealth and variety of golf tourism options available in Malaysia.

During the Malaysian Open, fans from Europe who travel here will get a chance to be upclose and personal with their stars and play on world class courses through their travel package deals.

MGTA executive director Chris Syer said that Malaysia has a great potential of raking in big revenues through golf tourism. For now, it is believed that Malaysia is only utilising 30% of its full potential in bringing in revenues through golf tourism.

“Malaysia host quality tournaments. They have impressive golf courses with varied and unique landscapes. The country is beautiful and the people are nice,” said Syer.

“Almost every golfer that I know has only good things to say about Malaysia. Colin Montgomerie, who is my friend, used to find the hot weather here a bother but he always comes back because he loves the friendly people and the warm reception he gets here. Malaysia is a great destination for golf tourism.”

The non-profit MGTA chairman Paul Gibbons said the convention, which would be held after the Malaysian Open, would be a perfect platform to “sell” the country as a golf destination.

“Golf tourism in Thailand has generated revenues worth US$1bil. Malaysia has 207 golf courses, each with its own unique topography. Malaysia too has what it takes to keep its golf courses busy ... we will promote what Malaysia has to offer during the convention,” he said.

With so much focus given on making the sport an industry, expect Malaysia to enjoy more foreign revenues through golf – and more big names to continue to grace the events.

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