Fairways bloom with tourists ,Zim Open drives sport tourism boom Royal Harare Golf Club

IN May, the fairway bloomed not just with gorgeous green but with international visitors. Over 500 golf enthusiasts flew into Zimbabwe for the week-long 2024 FBC Zimbabwe Open, held at the majestic Royal Harare Golf Club.

The prestigious Sunshine Tour event isn’t just a golfer’s paradise; it’s a tourist magnet. The tournament attracted not just international visitors, but also throngs of Zimbabweans from all corners of the country. This surge in visitors is a prime opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe’s beauty and push sports tourism to new heights.

For years, golf has been a driving force behind sports tourism, generating significant revenue and boosting hotel occupancy rates. The Zimbabwe Open taps into this billion-dollar industry, but its impact goes beyond international visitors.

Local events like the Sterling Hotels International Pairs Golf tournament play a crucial role in domestic tourism, with golfers traveling across the country to compete in the finals. The Zimbabwe Golf Association (ZGA) recognises this synergy and actively partners with tourism stakeholders. Martin Chikwana, the president of the association, looks forward to collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry to further leverage golf’s tourism potential.

Chikwana was speaking during the official launch of the 2024 Sterling Hotels International Pairs Golf tournament which was also graced by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Tongai Mnangagwa.

Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Tongai Mnangagwa

“For quite some time, we have been appealing to people in the tourism industry to partner golf as a sport because of the synergies that it brings to the table so this is something very big. Golf plays a significant part as a sport within the tourism sector and to have the Deputy Minister amongst us marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a relationship that will last a long time between golf and sports tourism as a whole.

“When you talk of tourism, golf does play a huge part in terms of tourism. Not so long after we had the Zimbabwe Open, we brought into the country close to 500 visitors that came into Harare and we took up close to 300 rooms at a hotel in Harare and I cannot imagine the amount of money that was brought in,” said Chikwana.

Zimbabwe’s golfing prowess has served as a stellar brand ambassador for the country, from the legendary Nick Price to the current talents of the Vincent brothers, Scott and Kieran, and rising star Robson Chinhoi. Their achievements have undeniably cast a positive light on Zimbabwe’s image abroad.

Deputy Minister Mnangagwa recognises this power and believes golf can be a significant growth engine for the tourism and hospitality industry. He acknowledges the need for more golf tournaments to be played, highlighting their role in attracting visitors and boosting the sector. This strategy involves fostering collaboration between tourism and sports, particularly golf.

ZGA president Martin Chikwana

“Sports tourism is a low-hanging fruit and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that in 2023 sports tourism generated or was valued at over US$500 billion. Golf has over the years been a good brand ambassador for Zimbabwe.

“Naturally the Ministry is exploring all avenues to stimulate and facilitate the growth of the tourism industry. This involves strategic partnerships and in some instances capacitating sectors of the industry to bring about the much desired growth. Apart from the Zimbabwe Open which was a success, we realise that there is a need for more golf tournaments and activities which would bring attention to the beauty of Zimbabwe and its numerous tourist attractions.

“Golf is a high-end game, there are people who can spend, people who have disposable income so why not push for more tournaments in the country where people come in, we have more international games, where people fly in, book in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, go and view our different tourists’ destinations in the country and golf will play a major role in this regard,” said Deputy Minister Mnangagwa.

The forthcoming Sterling Hotels International Pairs Golf tournament is set to also play its part in encouraging domestic tourism while also placing Zimbabwe on the international arena. The tournament brings to focus all the 40m courses in the country before the finals at Elephant Hills Golf Course in Victoria Falls.

The winners of the tournament will then go on to represent Zimbabwe at the World finals in Tenerife, Spain.





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