Tourism optimism

THERE is optimism around Fiji’s sports tourism this year with scheduled key international events to be staged on our shores in the coming months.

One of these sporting events include international golf tournament — The Fiji International — which will return to the Pacific for its fifth staging from August 2 to 5 this year at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Faiyaz Koya said the Fiji International had showcased Fiji’s capability to host international sporting events and more specifically grow golf as a niche tourism product.

“We are thrilled to once again partner in this tri-sanctioned event and we trust that the event will secure high profile golfers from Asia and the rest of the world,” Mr Koya added in a statement from PGA of Australia.

The golf tournament — which was inaugurated in 2014 — is also aimed at boosting Fiji prospective sports tourism sector, particularly with the Asian market.

This was after the Fiji International’s new tri-sanctioning partnership with the Asian tour joining the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour.

As part of the tri-sanctioning agreement, the Fiji International will not compete with any other tournaments on the three tours in the Asia-Pacific region during the first week in August.

With a key strategic focus to leverage the tournament to build awareness and grow golf tourism from key Asian markets, the stand alone date provides the best opportunity to attract key Asian players and media to attend the event.

According to PGA of Australia, the inaugural tri-sanctioning in 2017 with the introduction of the Asian Tour saw an immediate increase of Asian players in the field, rising from five to 23 players and a notable increase in television broadcast throughout Asia.

PGA of Australia chief executive officer Gavin Kirkman, who oversees the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, said scheduling a date on the busy global golf calendar always presented a challenge.

“We are confident that with the support of our sanctioning partners, the prominent August date represents a great opportunity for increased interest and exposure,” Mr Kirkman said in the statement.

“The 2017 event resulted in over 20 hours of global broadcast vision which advertised Fiji to the world and encouraged more golf fans to visit Fiji on their next golfing holiday. We look forward to building on this in 2018.”

Over the past few years, the Fiji International has established a reputation among the world’s best golfers as a must attend event for themselves and their families.

The early August date follows on from the successful timing of the 2017 event, which saw an impressive field of international players compete in pristine conditions, further cementing the attraction of the tournament for players.

The redesign of the championship course from Fiji’s number one golf ambassador, Vijay Singh, was also on display for the first time last year and resulted in spectacular viewing of Fiji’s natural beauty during the international broadcast.

With a further year of the redesigned holes being bedded in and with overall growth of the newly laid turf, the course is expected to be in good condition during the tournament.

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