By: NATASHA SMITH
GOLFERS ARE expected to play 1.7 million rounds of golf annually in the Algarve by 2009.
The figure was announced in a presentation of golf events and investments for the next two years by Turismo de Portugal, the national tourism board.
Victoria Golf Club in Vilamoura was chosen as the venue to announce the Plan of Golf Events 2007/2009 on January 5, which included the announcement of a new competition in the PGA European Tour, the Portugal Masters.
The event will take place between October 18 and 21, at the golf club and prize money will total three million euros.
The ceremony at Victoria Golf Club was attended by the Minister for the Economy and Innovation, Manuel Pinho, Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, Laurentino Dias, Secretary of State for tourism, Bernardo Trindade and representatives of the tourism board. António Pina, Civil Governor of Faro and the recently elected president of Associação de Turismo do Algarve (ATA), the Algarve tourism association, Daniel Queirós were also present, among others.
As part of the plans laid out for the next two years, the organisers will use the fact that Portugal has been considered as the best European and world golf destination to attract the best world class golfers and tourists, as stated by Pinho. He believed that this would also facilitate the sustainability of the Portugal Masters competition.
A total of 25 million euros will be invested in the golf industry in Portugal over the next two years in promotion and event organisation. This amount is almost double the amount that was spent between 2005 and 2006.
Trindade said that it was a good plan with a different structure to previous years, which would cover more areas and working together as one unit would ensure its success, “the intention is to encourage more tourists to choose Portugal and indeed the Algarve as a preferred destination for golf holidays,” he added. Lisbon, Madeira, the Azores and the Algarve are currently considered the most important destinations in Portugal for golf and tourism, which is why this amount of money is being invested.
António Pina said that “it is a good programme for encouraging and maintaining tourism” and Pinho said “the only way to maintain a great future is not through one entity but a partnership with many to make this work and develop”.
The plan for golf projected an annual growth of seven per cent per year for the next three years and in that time expects to reach 1.7 million rounds of golf per year in the Algarve. The tourism board and the national golf association predict that the golf industry in Portugal will grow a further 21 per cent in the next three years. The country will gain notoriety for on a global level for excellent golf courses.
The tourism board for Portugal has promised to fund 52 per cent of the total 25 million euro investment in golf promotion and events until 2009, the rest will come from various companies in the public and private sector.
PGA European Tour Director of International Policy, Keith Waters said he was “excited and honoured to be involved in this project” and looked forward to the Portugal Masters.
The competition is one of three new events as part of European tour and the third international tournament in Portugal.
The tournament came about as a result of talks between the European Tour and the national tourism board. The intention is to lift this tournament into the top five best in Europe and the competition will remain on the golf calendar for at least the next three years.
The winner of this competition will be given half-a-million euros and the event will have a comprehensive distribution in terms of television coverage. Waters announced that the PGA European Tour had just signed deals, which will expand the coverage to air in most European countries and South America, which will aid the promotion of Portugal as a top golf destination.
Do you have a view about this story? [email protected]