By Gail Momblan
ILOILO CITY — The Department of Tourism in Western Visayas (DOT 6) and the Iloilo Golf and Country Club, Inc. (IGCI) are preparing for the first three-day Iloilo golf summit.
The summit, slated from September 20 to 22, will gather more than 50 high profile golfers, associations, and decision-makers in the country to assess and evaluate aspects needed to be improved to pump up golf tourism in the country, said Herminio Maravilla II, president of IGCI, in a press conference at the DOT 6 office here on Wednesday.
“This summit will look at the strengths, and most importantly, look at the weaknesses of golf tourism in the Philippines,” Maravilla said.
Iloilo province hosts the oldest golf course in Southeast Asia established in 1907 in Santa Barbara town.
“Iloilo, being the home of the oldest golf course, would be a part of the movement to improve gold tourism. At the end of the summit, we will craft and create an official resolution requesting the National Government to declare 2020 as the National Golf Tourism Year in the Philippines,” he said.
Citing statistics, Maravilla said there are about one million Filipinos involved in the golf industry. The IGCCI has around 1,400 members and 285 regular golfers, he said.
He said that Filipinos should erase the perception that golf is a sport for the elite, as it is open to different strata in society.
“Golf should be promoted because we have beautiful courses here and the Filipinos can speak English,” he stated.
Lawyer Helen Catalbas, DOT 6 regional director, said the summit will be the beginning of the domino effect for the tourism sector in Western Visayas. She said the participants in the summit are “decision-makers who can move things and decide even on-the-spot”.
“Tourism is about storytelling and the Iloilo golf and country club has a lot of stories to tell and these stories are salable,” Catalbas said.
With Iloilo also positioning to become meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibits (MICE) destination, Catalbas is positive that there will be a significant increase in tourism receipts and arrivals in the immediate future.
“Golf tourism is always high-end tourism. These are people who can afford to travel, to shop, to take their wives or partners to the destination and shop. It is not only about the playing field, but it’s also about shopping hotel accommodations, eating, transportation facilities, all the other components of the tourism sector will be involved,” Catalbas said.
The upcoming summit highlights a Golf Summit Tournament on September 21 at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club, Santa Barbara town in the morning to be followed by a plenary session in the afternoon. (PNA)