Kenya’s tourism industry got a major boost on Tuesday after Vipingo Ridge Golf course was branded a Professional Golfers Association (PGA) level facility.
The 18-hole Baobab Golf Course in Kilifi County became the first golf course on the African continent to attain the prestigious PGA accreditation.
Following the branding, Vipingo golf course is set to receive PGA golfers from around the world giving a major boost to the country’s tourism.
This comes after officials of the association visited the Naivasha-based Aberdare Hills Golf Resort, boosting chances that it could also attain the global status.
On Tuesday, PGA head of property and development Guy Moran said the branding of Baobab would boost Kenya’s golf tourism.
Speaking at Vipingo Ridge during the event, Mr Moran said his association was satisfied that the facility was of world-class.
He said the group, which was started in Great Britain and Ireland in 1901 would encourage its members and golfers to visit Kenya to play golf at Vipingo.
The association, he added, has almost 8,000 members mainly from the two nations as well as from Russia, China, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Scotland and Kenya.
In Kenya, he said, PGA has three members but was workingto accredit more. Mr Moran said Kenya had great potential of attracting top golf players due to having world-class golf course at Vipingo Ridge, air connectivity, beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife.
“Kenya should take advantage of the world class golf course to attract golf tourists who are big spenders to generate more revenue and economic growth,” he said.
To attract more golfers from around the world, the PGA official said there was a need for Kenya to come up with packages which combine both golf and the wildlife.
This, he added, would make golfers who come for tournaments to go on safari after playing. “Kenya has got a lot to offer compared to other golf tourism destinations since it has warm weather, the stunningly beautiful beaches at the Coast and the wildlife in popular parks such as ...Maasai Mara,” he said.
He noted that the PGA accreditation would enable Vipingo Ridge attract high-end golfers and boost tourism in Kilifi County.
Mr Moran said for a golf course to attain PGA accreditation it must have world class standards and that the owners must adhere to certain qualities such as promoting the development of the sport.
“It is for the first time that we are accrediting a golf course on the African continent and we are glad that Kenya has joined the league of PGA branded golf facilities,” he said.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, thanked the PGA for awarding the Vipingo Ridge golf course the PGA accreditation.
The Cabinet Secretary said the branding of the Baobab golf course was a major boost to tourism as it would attract more professional golfers to visit Kenya.
He added that the PGA accreditation would put Kenya on the world map and enable the country attract golfers from around the world.
“The branding of Baobab golf course as a PGA level facility will give our country more edge than our competitors on the continent and boost our golf tourism growth,” he said.
He called on hotels at the Coast to refurbish their hotels to international standards to enable them attract high-end golfers.
“Most of the professional golfers are high-end visitors and therefore we must upgrade our tourist facilities to world class standards to woo more holidaymakers,” he added.
Vipingo Ridge chairman Alastair Cavenagh, said for the last seven years they had been developing the golf facilities to meet international requirements.
He added that Vipingo Ridge invested heavily into developing the Baobab Golf Course so that it could reach the PGA standards.
“I am glad that after seven years of investment at long last we have attained the PGA accreditation which will give us the opportunity to attract PGA members from around the world,” he said.
Mr Cavenagh said Vipingo Ridge would maintain the high standards for both local and international golfers to get value for their money.