South Koreans and Japanese are the largest groups of foreign visitors coming to Vietnam for golf, and they would be specific targets, Vu The Binh, vice president of the association, said.
The association plans to launch the Vietnam Golf Tourism Association later this month, and Binh said this is not only to attract tourists but also help localities with golf tourism potential to develop it.
A spokesperson for the Yen Dung golf course in Bac Giang Province, 50km east of Hanoi, said 70-80 percent of the course’s visitors are South Korean, half of them tourists and the rest people working in Vietnam.
In 2019 some companies plan to operate charter flights to bring golfers to the central resort town Nha Trang and the southern Phu Quoc Island from South Korea and Japan.
Having surveyed many courses in Southeast Asia, Vu Van Yen, deputy editor in chief of Golf magazine and a member of the World Golf Tourism Organization, said golf courses in Vietnam are not as competitive as those in Thailand and Malaysia but they are beautiful new spaces that offer diverse terrains and were designed by world famous golfers.
Golf courses in Japan are much more visually appealing but cannot be used in winter. That is one of the reasons why international visitors choose Vietnam to hit a golf ball.
But Vietnam lacks direct flights from Japan and South Korea to its golf venues.
Da Lat in the Central Highlands, for instance, has some courses but international visitors who want to play there have to travel there via Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City.
Besides, Vietnam has yet to create for itself an international golf tourism brand despite being the winner of the Best Golf Destination in Asia award for two consecutive years, according to industry insiders.
The new Golf Tourism Association is set to collaborate with the Vietnam Golf Association to organize and promote tourism events in combination with golf competitions initially focusing on Japan, South Korea and the U.S.
Legendary Australian golfer Greg Norman, Vietnam’s Tourism Ambassador, could be a senior advisor to the new association.
Vietnam has more than 30 golf courses of regional and international standards and 60 others will be built by 2020.