La Romana, Dominican Republic.- Golf is at the center of Dominican Republic’s first ever event that gathers players, tour operators, travel agencies and even specialized publications to showcase the country’s 25 links, and a market niche one of the sponsors called “better than gold.”
From as far away as Finland, executives from companies linked to golf flock to Casa de Campo, the country’s icon resort, where TARGET Market Consultants organized a seminar and a conference on Tuesday, with various speakers detailing Dominican Republic’s thriving golf market, spearheaded by links that boast 57 holes sprayed by the Caribbean and the Atlantic surf.
“The 25 breathtaking courses make the Dominican Republic the best golf destination in the Caribbean,” said TARGET CEO Teddy De Lara during the welcome reception.
In the press conference Tuesday, the organizers also announced the DR Open Amateur championshipgolf at the Teeth of the Dog as an added bonus, from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1.
Selling the destination
Among the participants figure tour operator Marguerite Workman, from Colorado, and Edward Terre, a travel agent from England, who specialized in golf destinations.
Workman said while she knew of the country’s “exotic beauty and great golf courses,” their sheer numerous was a surprise. “Golfers like the amenities of the hotels, especially corporate packages, and the airfare to Dominican Republic is very affordable.”
From a player’s standpoint, Terre notes that the country’s courses strike a balance between a challenge and comfortable play, as most golfers prefer par fours over tougher links. “AUK player doesn’t necessarily look for the 7,500-yard course with water on both sides, so care has to be taken with the structuring of the course.”
Dominican Republic Golf commissioner Nicolas Vargas also spoke in the conference, and urged for “quality above quantity” to bolster the golf tourism niche, especially by attracting golfers from the U.S. and Canada. He said nearly one-in-four of the US’ 25 million travelers do so to play golf.
Dominican Golf Federation (Fedogolf) president Juan Cohen noted that once the country reaches 1.0 million golf tourists, income from that business will top US$2.0 billion, or more than the country’s current earnings of US$1.8 billion yearly from gold exports. “That’s why we see golfers as better than gold.”