ILOILO City – The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas and the Iloilo Golf and Country Club, Inc. (IGCI) are preparing for the first three-day Iloilo golf summit.
The summit, slated from Sept. 20 to 22, will gather more than 50 high-profile golfers, associations and decision-makers in the country.
The goal is to pump up golf tourism in the country, said Herminio Maravilla II, president of IGCI.
“This summit will look at the strengths, and most importantly, look at the weaknesses of golf tourism in the Philippines,” Maravilla said.
Iloilo province hosts the oldest golf course in Southeast Asia established in 1907 in Santa Barbara town.
“Iloilo, being the home of the oldest golf course in the region, would be a part of the movement to improve golf tourism. At the end of the summit, we will craft and create an official resolution requesting the national government to declare 2020 as the National Golf Tourism Year in the Philippines,” he said.
Citing statistics, Maravilla said there are about one million Filipinos involved in the golf industry.
The IGCCI alone has around 1,400 members and 285 regular golfers, he said.
Filipinos should erase the perception that golf is a sport for the elite, stressed Maravilla.
“Golf should be promoted because we have beautiful courses and the Filipinos can speak English,” he said.
Director Helen Catalbas of DOT-6 said the summit will have a domino effect for the tourism sector in Western Visayas.
Participants in the summit are “decision-makers who can move things and decide even on-the-spot.”
“Tourism is about storytelling and the Iloilo Golf and Country Club has a lot of stories to tell and these stories are salable,” added Catalbas.
With Iloilo also positioning to become meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibits (MICE) destination, Catalbas is positive that there will be a significant increase in tourism receipts and arrivals in the immediate future.
“Golf tourism is always high-end tourism. These are people who can afford to travel, shop, take their wives or partners with them. It is not only about the playing but also about shopping, hotel accommodations, eating, transportation facilities, all the other components of the tourism sector will be involved,” Catalbas said. (PNA)