A decision by the state needed on golf tourism to convert the DR into the Hawaii of the Caribbean
SANTO DOMINGO. “We have a static machine that is not generating wealth and we have around 500,000 rounds of golf available in what is the infrastructure already installed.”
This was revealed by Rafael Canario, the vice-president of the Dominican Federation of Golf (FEDOGOLF), who said that at the present time not even half of the private investment in these courses is used. These golf courses cost around US$200,000,000.
Translated into money, there is US$55 million more that the country could receive each year just in green fees, which at the present time are at about US$35 million.
This is just a part of the overall picture, which does not include room rental, food consumption, and other expenditures. It is a high consumption segment of tourism, different from the all-inclusive model that is used throughout the country.
What is needed?
“What we have asked from the state in all of our public statement is that the purse of the professional-in the tournaments-should not be skimped on by the state, and I think that it is worthwhile for the state to contribute US$150,000 or US$300,000 if it is going to go after income of US$90 million and US$17 million in ITBIS for the state,” said Canario.
Puerto Rico, with half of the courses of the Dominican Republic (12) “and with 30% of the quality of the Dominican courses (according to Canario),” invests US$5 million between a stop on the PGA Tour and another of the Latin American PGA, and just the first has an economic impact of US$22 million.
“Tourism is this country’s industry, even the President (Danilo Medina) has said that it is the motor of the economy, well then, I think that golf is a very special motor, it is a quality motor, one that is not going to break down just around the corner,” said Cohen.
The target which Cohen mentions is the 30 million golfers in the United States and he feels that the Dominican climate is a great attraction.
“We are at the same latitude as Hawaii and Hawaii has more than 100 golf courses. Then this is a State decision. Tourism is our industry but what tourist niche do you want? Not only is it quantity it is also quality. What do I want? I want a strong industry; well I want to bet on a niche. Our role has been to provide with courage, with sacrifice, with risks, this type of an event. But really it is an issue of State.”
In this sense, the top executive of Fedogolf said that once the country obtained the license to mount a stop on the Latin American PGA Tour, they focused on taking it to the best installations of the country as a way to promote the destination among the players that take part in the tournament, who come from different countries of the continent.
The first version of the tournament was played at the Corales Golf Course at Punta Cana, then it moved to Cana Bay at the Hard Rock Hotel and now it will come to Casa de Campo.
“The demand exists. In the United States golf moves US$75 billion (US$75,000,000,000), there are 16,000 golf courses. Just in Florida there are 1,200 golf courses. If you go to Europe there are 6,000 courses, in Spain alone, golf moves US$4 billion, and I think this is number one: Does there exist a demand for golf? It is very clear that there is a market,” said Cohen.
Tourism will promote the country as a golf destination
The conditions have to be created to attract Chinese, Europeans, and American golfers
Three years after launching the Dominican Republic Open (DR Open), the results are beginning to be seen. The Ministry of Tourism has come in as one of the principle sponsors of the local PGA stop which will be played this month, and it is a light at the end of the tunnel for the organizers.
“Tourism is going to make more investment in publicity focused on the Dominican Republic as a golf destination because we won the 2013 prize as the best golf destination in Latin America.
“We feel that starting this year they are going to make more emphasis on promotion and publicity,” said Juan Cohen
When in 2011 the PGA suggested to the directors of Fedogolf the staging of a stop on the continental tour, the economic condition was raising US$350,000, and to find this money for the first two tournaments was an odyssey.
“I can tell you that the DNA of the makeup of the Dominican Republic turns around golf. Casa de Campo revolves around golf, the East, which is to say Bavaro-Punta Cana, revolves around golf, in other words, we are betting on golf,” said Cohen, who has been the president of Fedogolf since 2006.
Besides the United States market, the promotions will be focused on the European countries, and Russia, China, South Korea, who have all made great investments of the so-called “Gentlemen’s Sport.”
“When Casa de Campo publishes the DR Open logo in magazines such as Selecta and Cigar Aficionado, they are saying to you that the brand is competing as the country brand and it is a brand for everyone,” Cohen said on how the Dominican Open has become an important project since it started in 2010.
Membership. Fedogolf has a membership of 12.000 players but they estimate at 15,000 the number of persons that practice the sport in the country. A person pays a yearly fee and can play on the principle golf courses of the country whether it be Guavaberry or Metro or Las Lagunas.
Subvention. The Federation receives a monthly subvention of RD$200,000, a figure that the directors feel is low, since it is now an Olympic sport since 2009, it requires investments for the preparation of high quality athletes. “This means perhaps five percent, four percent of the income we produce. The other federations, and I do not want to accuse, live on the state.”
A sport for the wealthy. Juan Cohen said he feels that Dominican golf has become more democratic and as a sample of this we have Julio Santos, the best ranked player in the country and who competes on the PGA, is of a humble origin, began playing as a caddie and has risen in the sport. Also, Juan “Manita” Campusano, one of the best players in the country, was also a caddie.
Amateur Cup. On the Dominican stop, for the first time on the Latin American PGA circuit, they will play the Amateur Cup, just as they play at the Masters in Augusta, GA. They will crown a professional champion and an amateur champion. It will be a minimum selection of 10 or 12 players.
Riches. “Golf is the sport that generates the greatest wealth, but I am not saying this only in economic terms but also on the personal level. You can play from very young until your last days; accompanied by your family, or with business associates. Gary Player says that golf is a great machine for making friends,” said Cohen.
Category: DR News |