New golf course at Nkonyeni to bol­ster sport tourism

Iven the value of busi­ness gen­er­ated through golf and by golfers, the sport has seen the emer­gence of what is known as Golf Tourism, which in it­self is a form of Sport Tourism. Golf tourism is the term used to de­scribe trips un­der­taken by per­sons for whic

Sunday Observer - - FEATURES -

Although the con­cept of Sport Tourism is still rel­a­tively new, es­pe­cially in African des­ti­na­tions, re­cent tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments have aided its sub­stan­tial growth with Swazi­land sig­nif­i­cantly claim­ing her share of the cake.

The ease of ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion on­line on matches and fix­tures for var­i­ous sport­ing codes have made plan­ning for trav­el­ling and par­tic­i­pat­ing quite eas­ier than ever be­fore. Every year, thou­sands travel to dis­tant and near des­ti­na­tions to par­tic­i­pate at var­i­ous sport­ing events ei­ther as com­peti­tors or spec­ta­tors, gen­er­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue for hosts as tourism re­ceipts.

The growth of Sport Tourism in Swazi­land is not leg­ging be­hind given the nu­mer­ous sport­ing tour­na­ments that the coun­try has hosted across var­i­ous dis­ci­plines.

Although soc­cer, by and large, is the big­gest sport that con­trib­utes to do­mes­tic travel within Swazi­land, golf and cy­cling are among the lead­ing dis­ci­plines that at­tract vis­i­tors into the coun­try.

The pres­ence and sus­tain­able up­keep of the coun­try’s golf cour­ses has seen the sport grow by leaps and bounds over the years. What even aided such growth was the es­tab­lish­ment of the King’s Golf Cup, which has not only be­come Swazi­land’s big­gest golf tour­na­ment but a re­gional show­piece. His Majesty King Mswati III’s pa­tron­age of the King’s Cup has seen the sport and sport tourism in the coun­try grow­ing tremen­dously.

The event is at­tended by both pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur golfers from sev­eral

Gcoun­tries, some of which in­clude South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zim­babwe, as well as lo­cals.

Given the value of busi­ness gen­er­ated through golf and by golfers, the sport has seen the emer­gence of what is known as Golf Tourism, which in it­self is a form of Sport Tourism. Golf tourism is the term used to de­scribe trips un­der­taken by per­sons for which the main pur­pose is to play golf. Golf may also be pur­sued as a se­condary ac­tiv­ity (for ex­am­ple, some­one on a cul­tural hol­i­day play­ing a round dur­ing their va­ca­tion).

The global golf tourism mar­ket is worth over $17 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Golf­ing Tour Op­er­a­tors (IAGTO). 56 mil­lion peo­ple play golf world­wide: 26.7 mil­lion in the United States, 5 mil­lion in Canada, 5.5 mil­lion in con­ti­nen­tal Europe, 14 mil­lion in Ja­pan, and 3.8 mil­lion in the United King­dom. Of this 56 mil­lion, be­tween five per cent and 10 per cent travel over­seas each year for the main pur­pose be­ing to play golf – there­fore mak­ing the in­ter­na­tional size of the golf tourism mar­ket be­tween 2.8 mil­lion and 5.6 mil­lion. Through the King’s Cup, Swazi­land is al­ready mak­ing in­roads in tap­ping into such a po­ten­tially huge mar­ket.

Golfers who have sam­pled Swazi­land’s golf cour­ses are al­ways im­pressed beyond mea­sure. Of the big­gest cour­ses, Royal Swazi Spa and Nkonyeni golf cour­ses are among the most pop­u­lar. The sport is set to bring even more tourists in the near fu­ture as Nkonyeni is cur­rently build­ing a sec­ond 18-hole golf course at their es­tate. Cur­rently, they have a bush-veld 18-hole golf course. The new one will be a links golf course (a course that is set free from bushes). Ac­cord­ing to Nkonyeni man­age­ment, the new course will meet in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and would make host­ing of in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments pos­si­ble.

While the first nine holes of the new course would be com­pleted by next year, the en­tire course is an­tic­i­pated to be com­plete and func­tional by the year 2020. This res­onates with na­tional de­vel­op­ment as­pi­ra­tions for 2022 as en­vi­sioned by His Majesty.

The de­vel­op­ment of world-class sport­ing in­fras­truc­ture is surely among other projects that would ma­te­ri­alise Swazi­land’s na­tional dis­course to­wards 2022. Who knows, one day Swazi­land could play host to such big in­ter­na­tional golf­ing stars as Tiger Woods among oth­ers.

The STA wishes Nkonyeni all the best as they em­bark on this am­bi­tious and game-chang­ing project.

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