Destination news: Kenya adds golf to list of tourism attractions


(eTN) A number of championship golf courses across Kenya, several of them within or just outside the country’s capital city of Nairobi, have prompted added promotional activities to attract golfers from across the world to come to the country and play “safari golf” on the many upcountry courses and sample world-class courses like Muthaiga, Royal Windsor, and other more recent additions, even at the coast.

Golfing generates mega billions of US dollars in revenue each year and many aficionados travel the globe to play a couple of rounds on a course they fancy, and they are willing to pay a great deal of money for the privilege in not just green fees but their entire travel arrangements, tickets, accommodation, meals, transport, and extras spent on location.

In Kenya, several specialized operators have been tapping into this market, but it appears that the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) has adopted this niche as one of their target groups, too, intensifying marketing efforts to promote and popularize golfing in Kenya alongside the more traditional vacation products like safaris, beach holidays, and cultural travel. KTB and private sector tourism stakeholders have now brought a number of officials of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators into the country to show them a range of Kenyan golf courses and club facilities and get their input as to how best to put Kenya on the global golfing map, following Kenya’s success at the last International Golf Travel Market, where the country was declared “Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year 2009.”

As expected, at the end of the visit to Kenya’s leading golf courses, the CEO of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, Mr. Peter Walton, has heaped praise on his hosts and encouraged Kenya to do more in terms of global promotion of the sport, saying also “golfers will get value for money here.” It was also learned that the courses visited were audited and will receive grading marks that golf tourists can follow.

The established major Kenyan golf clubs like Nairobi’s Muthaiga, Royal Windsor, and Karen have invested heavily in recent years to raise the level of facilities and add to the challenge of their courses. Private investors put up championship courses at the south coast of Mombasa some years ago and are putting final touches on the much-expected new Vipingo Ridge golf course on the north coast of Mombasa, where residential properties are being built for purchase by those wanting to spend more time in Kenya every year. It is such levels of investments, and the foresight in doing so, which has moved Kenya ahead of her East African competitors, as few facilities of true international standards otherwise exist in the wider region as yet.