The official international launch of "Golf In A Kingdom", a collection of Thailand’s leading golf courses, is set to further enhance Thailand’s reputation as a leader in global golf tourism.
With 23 members, Golf In A Kingdom is one of the top golf tourism programmes in the Asia Pacific region and will play a major role in the Tourism Authority of Thailand's campaign to promote golf tourism as one of the country's main attractions. The official launch took place at Siam Country Club’s Plantation course in Pattaya and was attended by tour operators and media from around the world, as well as Golf In A Kingdom members, the Mayor of Pattaya and Thai golf tourism professionals.
Following the launch, 30 tour operators and members of the media from the United States, Canada, Germany, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Australia joined pre-arranged visits to Thailand’s premier golf destinations: Phuket, Hua Hin, Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
“The world has discovered Thailand golf tourism and Golf In A Kingdom is now reaching out to the world to highlight the unbeatable values of the Thai golf experience, " Mark Siegel, Golf In A Kingdom’s founder, told reporters. "Invariably, golfers who come to play in Thailand keep coming back.” Siegel estimates golf tourism was worth 86 billion Baht or USD 2.88 billion in land arrangements alone to Thailand in 2012. He expects 15 percent further growth in 2013, with more than 850,000 golf visitors to the Kingdom, worth an estimated USD 3.68 billion, and the one million mark in visitor numbers expected to be passed in 2015.
Just as Asia is becoming a major source of tourists to Thailand, about 13 million of 22 million international visitors last year, or 60 percent of the total, the same applies to inbound golfers. About two thirds — some 500,000 in 2012 — came from Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, India and China. “The level of Chinese golf tourism is growing every year,” Siegel says. “Whereas a few years ago, we hardly saw any Chinese golfers in Thailand, it has become reasonably common. There’s no doubt China will be a major feeder market for golf tourism to Thailand and other countries in the future.” Although still relatively small in visitor numbers, Siegel says North America is now also target for the golf tourism industry in Thailand.
“We are starting to see US golfers,” he said. “After four years of attending the PGA Show [in Florida each January] there’s at least an acknowledgement that Thailand exists as a golf destination. Numbers are growing and it’s a market we will continue to pursue.”
The member courses in the Golf In A Kingdom programme are Banyan Golf Club, Black Mountain Golf Club, Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort & Spa, Laem Chabang International Country Club, Loch Palm Golf Club, Muang Kaew Golf Club, Red Mountain Golf Club, Riverdale Golf Club, Siam Country Club Old Course, Siam Country Club Plantation Course, Suwan Golf & Country Club, Thai Country Club.