Interview with Mr. Arvind Bundhun director of MTPA
MGT: What has been the prime motivation for the MTPA to promote golf, over other tourism sector activities; was this the result of a clearly agreed strategy between the key tourism players, and when was this strategy defined?
Arvind Bundhun: As tourism demand and supply evolve regularly, we have always adopted sound business principles at the MTPA to understand this market development and constantly initiated change strategies. In this respect, promoting golf tourism is a niche market in a competitive environment, and is fit for a mature tourism destination like Mauritius. Over recent years, we have therefore adopted the concept of customer experiences to judge the supply for golf tourism. Today, the relationship between golf and tourism is so evident that it represents a unique marker with its own features. The excellence that the game inspires is crucial for the affirmation of a tourism destination. Given these unique features, golf is not only valuable as a tourism product, but it also diversifies the offer of a tourism destination; while contributing to mitigate the seasonality phenomenon. MTPA has worked closely for the past three years with MGTA and IAGTO to expand the market mix by implementing tailored actions in new markets in Asia, even while maximizing international visitor arrivals from established key markets. The MGTA has created a Year-Round, Multi-Course Product which gives specialist Golf Tour Operators an incentive to market Mauritius to their clients. We can play golf all year round In Mauritius with the advantages that include purity of the air, and the unrivalled hospitality at all levels that gives the country the edge that every golfer desires.
MGT: We are aware that MTPA were very active participants of the project to bring the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open to the island… Once again, what does MTPA see as direct and indirect benefits of being an official backer to what has now become a very prestigious event?
A.B.: Golf is clearly rising as a leisure product, driven by new international sports heroes that attract the media, the public, and sponsors. This diversification in tourism provides a more sustainable foundation to the industry by decreasing dependence on certain markets. The benefits are therefore multi-fold, both in terms of room As the primary agency promoting tourism in Mauritius, MTPA has played a key role in putting the island on the world map and promoting it as a golf destination. It has been an excellent example of collaboration in both public and private sector initiatives. occupancy and media visibility. Moreover, the participation of top world players adds to the glamour and prestige of the event, which is picked up as headlines in major news networks. For example, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open now reaches over 400M viewers; it has enhanced the visibility of our destination worldwide and is now well established in the golf tournaments calendar. This first international golf tournament jointly sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, the European Tour, and the Asian Tour has definitely placed golf as one of the main growth components for Mauritius as a tourism destination. Additionally, with its broadcast across the world, it opens the door for further investment opportunities.
MGT: As a sport, Golf, in terms of courses, resorts, accommodation, and ancillary services requires large investments… with Mauritius already having 9 championship courses, and a number of property resort developments built around golf, how does MTPA see the future in terms of growth; are there still growth opportunities?
A.B.: We believe that we are on the right track or, to adopt a golfing term… Mauritius is right in the middle of the fairway in terms of its infrastructure. The 10 championship golf courses epitomise this drive forward, with the Gymkhana Golf Course standing proudly as the first golf course ever built in the southern hemisphere. The Heritage Golf Course will soon open its second course next year. In the near future we shall reach 11 golf courses in Mauritius. On the marketing side, there is obviously much scope for opportunities as we have yet to tap the full potential of markets like India, China, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. We are doing just that in 2019 with commercial breakthroughs in these developing markets. Following the visit of the MTPA delegation to the OTM, the leading Travel Show in Asia-Pacific held in January at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai, a final agreement was reached to host a Golf Day at the Delhi Golf Club in the Indian capital in April. This event will attract more than 300 high profile players and guests. This epitomises our great desire to further explore and tap the Asian markets.
MGT: Mauritius offers golf as a year-round destination, does the MTPA actively promote the destination during the low season, and to specifically increase golf arrivals?
A.B.: In an industry driven by increasing competition, the challenge for a destination like Mauritius is to make golf playing become a new factor for differentiation. Yes, we are already witnessing tangible results. We’ve seen how golf is a real motivation for travelling and an attractive business of itself. By its nature, golf has already mobilised a wide set of indirect and induced effects in the real estate sector in Mauritius. Over the past months, we have accelerated our commercial campaigns through our PR agencies, Fairs and Tour Operator visits and press trips. Mauritius has registered a 9% increase in rounds of golf played during the 2018 calendar year with an estimated growth in arrivals of 4,000. This will increase the total number of players and other parties involved in this activity to 54,000 annually. Growth during the low tourism season in Mauritius last year was up by 13%. This is most encouraging as all the players in the industry want golf to bring that supplement of arrivals during the period of lower activity.
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