In 2009, Kenya was voted ‘Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year’ by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. At the 2011 World Travel Market in London, Tourism minister Najib Balala officially launched the Kenya Golf Guide. During the 2011 International Golf Travel Market held in Turkey, Kenya was one of eight countries nominated as the best golfing destinations.

All of a sudden there’s lots of excitement about the tourism potential of golf in Kenya, a fact which seems curious considering the long history of the game here. But for a country that has long struggled to broaden its tourism offerings beyond the cut-and-paste safaris, and to uplift its image above that of mass-market destination, golf tourism represents a fresh diversification of Kenya’s tourism products. And if properly exploited, then a viable new branch of tourism has just been ‘discovered’.

Royal Nairobi Club, Kenya’s first golf club, was established over one hundred years ago and there are currently more than 40 courses countrywide, ten of which are classified as being of international standard. The problem, however, is that few overseas golfers or tourism operators have been aware of this. “For many years, the marketing efforts for golf tourism were disjointed,” explains David Stogdale, chairman of the Kenya Golf Marketing Alliance. Consequently, Kenya’s golf resources were not fully developed and marketed.

Golf tourism represents a sector of generally high-spending tourists for whom golf is the primary deciding factor in the choice of a holiday destination. Additionally, golf tourists will travel long distances, including overseas, for a good game. For example, long haul golf tour operators from the USA and Australia will typically package a 14-night trip that includes seven rounds of golf and three days on safari. This represents tremendous business opportunities for both city and resort hotels with golf courses on site or nearby. Read More on The Star.