Boom in Thai golf tourism


Sean Dudley

The value of foreign golf tourists to the Thai economy is expected to hit US$2 billion in 2012.

Based on a Tourism Authority of Thailand forecast for a record 19 million inbound visitors next year, the country could play host to up to 600,000 foreign golf tourists.

According to Mark Siegel, whose company Golfasian is one of Thailand's major inbound golf tour operators, foreign golf tourism into Thailand is continuing to grow. Golf tourists, he says, spend an average of 100,000 baht (US$3,300) each on the ground – three times the average of other visitors.

With Thailand's major golf courses reporting strong early bookings and forecasting growth above 2011, the estimated 57 billion baht (US$1.9 billion) spent in Thailand by more than 500,000 inbound golf visitors this year should nudge 60 billion baht spent by up to 600,000 foreign golfers in 2012.

Up to 15 per cent of golf tourists to Thailand are expected to come from Australia, as a result of the strong Aussie dollar, plus additional new flights into Thailand.

“There has been a dramatic improvement,” said Prasertchai Phornprapha, managing director of Siam Country Club near Pattaya, a two course complex that relies purely on pay as you play visitors and is expecting to host 50,000 foreign golfers in 2012, half its total expected numbers.

Bangkok’s Thai Country Club is also expecting a bumper season. General manager TW Hughes said his optimism follows one of the best high seasons ever in 2011: “We believe this year will be at least equal to last year and perhaps even better, given those who experienced TCC are likely to want to repeat their experience.”