Can a Golf Tornament Save Kenya’s Travel Industry?

Gallivant Africa

A country well known for producing the finest long distance athletes in the world, Kenya is looking to expand its sports leadership by tapping into golf. In a bid to drive sports tourism, Kenya is leveraging on hosting golf tournaments in 2021 to promote the destination to local and international audiences.

The Safari Tour golf tournament is currently ongoing at Nyali Golf Club in Mombasa with upcoming events set to be held at Muthaiga Golf Club and Karen Country Club in Nairobi culminating in the Magical Kenya Open which will be held in March.

The other Safari Tour tournaments in the series were held at The Great Rift Valley Lodge, Vet Lab Sports Club, Royal Nairobi Golf Club and Sigona Golf Club.

As a part of showcasing the destination, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) is supporting the tournament series through the Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) which in turn provides an opportunity to market the destination.

While commenting on KTB’s participation in the events, KTB CEO, Dr Betty Radier expressed commitment to support golf in the country as it provides an opportunity to showcase Kenya as a golf destination and a preferred tourist destination, adding that it will be important in reopening the destination.

“As the destination marketing agency, our role is to inspire the world to visit Kenya, and as such we remain committed to supporting local and international sports events such as the Safari Tour and the Magical Kenya Open Championship among others that provide exposure to the destination,” she said.

She added that with the destination looking to bounce back, such events will be crucial in showcasing the destination and creating confidence to potential visitors going forward.

“It is sad that COVID-19 robbed us the opportunities for showcasing the destination in 2020 which was scheduled to host major sporting events in the country. These are the kind of opportunities that play a lead role in bringing people to the destination and attract eyeballs. We are however grateful that we able to have the Safari tour this year which will culminate into the Magical Kenya Open which is now part of the European tour. These events will play a role in the revival of tourism through instilling traveller confidence and showcasing our preparedness,” she added.

Golf continues to be an important sport that has been key in promoting Kenya as a tourist destination both locally and internationally by keeping audiences engaged. The Magical Kenya Open in particularly has been key in raising Kenya’s profile as a golfing destination to the international scene.

The Magical Kenya Open (MKO) Golf Championships is scheduled to take place on between 18th – 21st March 2021 after having been postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event which was elevated to the elite European Tour provides an opportunity to showcase the destination to Kenya’s key source markets by leveraging on its wide viewership.

With the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease, the 2020 MKO event will not have spectators which will be different from the previous tournaments. KTB plans to be part of the event with the view of maintaining the association between the destination and golfing, a key anchor in sports tourism.

The Safari Tour serves as preparation for the Magical Kenya Open Golf Championships as players who participate in the tournament get to be selected from the series.

Dr Radier noted that the agency targets to support the hosting clubs to make sure they are well prepared to host players as well as the professional players who are selected from the tour for the main event. This she says will help maintain the destination as a top golfing destination.

“Our support for the Safari Tour is meant to ensure we support the clubs hosting the events, especially bearing in mind that they were greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. We want to make sure that they keep up the standards that will ensure Kenya maintains a top spot as a golfing destination,” she added.

Kenya was recognized as Africa’s Best Golfing Destination during the 7th Annual World Golf Awards Gala Ceremony held in Dubai last year, beating South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. The World Golf Awards was founded in 2014 and recognizes and rewards excellence in golf tourism, Golf courses and golf destinations

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