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Abu Dhabi expecting Asian golf tourism surge

May 21, 2013

With new Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) figures revealing the UAE capital's trio of world-class, championship-ready golf courses hosted a record number of overseas rounds in Q1, global golf tourism industry experts believe the emirate's 'complete' destination credentials will cement it as one of the lucrative leisure segment's leading hotspots - particularly for Asian golfers - in coming years.

The figures show Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Links recorded their best-ever quarterly overseas rounds returns during Q1 this year, with 9,215 overseas rounds ensuring 89% growth on the comparative three-month period last year.

Having amassed 20% of the UAE's overseas rounds January-through-March last year, Abu Dhabi's three championship-ready clubs' quarterly contribution this year constitutes almost a third of the nationwide total. With other emirates suffering marginal dips or gains, Abu Dhabi's sterling Q1 performance ensured the number of overseas rounds played across the country was 90% up on the corresponding period last year.

The news comes hot-on-the-heels of major players in Asia's highly-lucrative golf tourism sector lauding Abu Dhabi's success in attracting Asian golf tourists at the 2 nd Annual Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC) - an annual trade event founded by the International Association Golf of Tour Operators (IAGTO) - in Pattaya, Thailand.

"We are hearing great reports from the clients we are sending to Abu Dhabi," said Kevin Wang, Vice General Manager, Grand Tours, one of China's biggest outbound golf tourism specialists. "These word-of-mouth endorsements are making Abu Dhabi an even easier sell for us and I expect the emirate's popularity to continue rising. I foresee sending ever-larger volumes of Asian golf travellers to Abu Dhabi over coming seasons."

According to the annual KPMG Golf Travel Insights Study, the UAE capital is muscling increased revenue from a global industry worth US $2billion in 2012. Spearheading the emirate's drive is Golf in Abu Dhabi - an initiative designed to execute the emirate's golf tourism strategy, maximise revenue returns for related stakeholders and position Abu Dhabi in the minds of potential golf customers from primary source markets such as the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, China, Korea and Japan.

With some 2,105 registered operators from 91 countries, IAGTO's members control over 85% of all golf holiday packages sold worldwide and generate annual turnover well in excess of more than US $1.6 billion. Vitally, Abu Dhabi's progress has caught the attention of Peter Walton, IAGTO's Chief Executive.

"Golf in Abu Dhabi has demonstrated once again how the initiative is striking the right chord with tour operators in the Asian market," said Walton. "Abu Dhabi is a great product, a complete product, with impressive ambition and it is encouraging to see successful results coming from its golf tourism sector and from key Asian territories."

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