Haikou, China: Asia’s largest-ever golf tourism event has been trumpeted as a huge success, with a record 556 delegates from 40 countries attending the third annual Asia Golf Tourism Convention on China’s Hainan Island.
Organised by global golf tourism industry association IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators), AGTC 2014 was hosted by award-winning golf and spa resort Mission Hills Haikou and the Haikou Government, with the convention business sessions taking place over two days at the ocean-front Hainan International Exhibition & Convention Centre in Haikou.
And IAGTO President and Chief Executive Peter Walton has predicted that golf holiday sales from around the world to China’s southerly tropical island will more than double over the next 18 months as a direct result of the event.
During the convention, more than 200 golf tour operator buyers from over 150 companies in 32 countries met with 290 supplier delegates from 150 seller companies including golf resorts, golf clubs, hotels, inbound operators and tourist boards from 19 countries across the Asia-Pacific region: China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Fiji, Mauritius, India, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Australia and New Zealand.
There were 137 delegates from China alone, with 57 sellers and 80 tour operator buyers. The convention was also attended by 60 media, dignitaries and other invited guests.
Walton said: “I am delighted with the attendance. This is one of the few travel trade conventions that attracts more buyer delegates than supplier companies. Altogether we had 556 delegates from 40 countries, which makes it the largest golf tourism event ever to have taken place in Asia.
“The purpose of the convention is, primarily, to enable our golf tour operator members to meet with golf resorts, golf courses, hotels, inbound operators and tourist boards from 19 countries in the Asia Pacific region. More than 5,000 meetings took place between these buyers and suppliers over the main two days of the event.
“We select the AGTC destination and venue with great care and the idea behind year’s AGTC was to showcase the Chinese tropical island of Hainan to the global golf tourism industry. It is fair to say that Hainan was relatively unknown to our golf tour operators so this was an opportunity to put it on the map.
“This volcanic tropical island has 54 golf courses of great variety and high quality with visitors welcome at many of them. Mission Hills Haikou, with its 10 golf courses, stands out as the flagship golf resort of Hainan Island and is, for me, the most spectacular golf and spa resort in the world.
“The spa facilities, including hot springs, are just incredible and as a result of hosting the AGTC, many more golfers around the world will become familiar with all that Mission Hills Haikou has to offer because of the increased exposure the resort will receive in tour operator brochures and websites.
“The tour operators were able to play three of the 10 courses during AGTC and 160 of them visited other courses on the island for an additional three days, so we are fairly certain that international golf holiday sales to Haikou and Hainan will more than double over the coming 18 months.”
Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group and Chairman of the IAGTO China Chapter, said: “The third annual Asia Golf Tourism Convention has been an outstanding success on every level and Mission Hills Haikou is delighted to have played such a central role in this landmark event.
“As Chairman of the IAGTO China Chapter, I’m thrilled that 137 of the delegates were from China, which shows a fantastic level of interest and a great willingness to network for the good of the industry.
“AGTC has also been a wonderful opportunity to showcase Mission Hills Haikou and Hainan Island to the golf travel community. We have opened up fresh avenues of business and made many new friends in the process.”