The IAGTO Awards 2009

20 November 2008

The IAGTO Awards are the official annual awards for the golf tourism industry. The 2009 gala Awards evening took place on Thursday 20th November 2008 at the Estepona Congress and Exhibition Centre, Spain on the last day of the International Golf Travel Market.

IAGTO is the global trade organisation for the golf tourism industry, comprising more than 1130 companies in 74 countries, including over 330 specialist golf tour operators in 46 countries. IAGTO operators control more than 80% of golf holiday packages sold worldwide (outside of Asia) and in 2007 their turnover exceeded €1 billion. IAGTO’s Chief Executive, Peter Walton, said "The annual golf holiday is the highlight of the golfing year for many of the world’s 50 million players, and the IAGTO Awards serve to reward a few exceptional contributions to this world of golf travel. There is certainly no shortage of candidates worthy of recognition. Many individuals, companies, organisations and destinations have excelled in delivering a great golfing experience to the golf traveller – the ultimate goal for all involved in golf tourism.

“The Awards serve also to encourage private and public sector organisations to work closely together in the development and promotion of new and existing golf destinations, making them accessible to and enjoyable by the widest range of golfers. Each year we recognise the performance of three of the world’s leading Golf Resorts, the flagships of our industry, together with one outstanding golf destination in each of the following five regions:

  • Asia & Australasia
  • Africa, the Indian Ocean & the Gulf States
  • Latin America & the Caribbean
  • North America
  • Europe

There is also an award for the Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year, voted for by members of the International Association of Golf Travel Writers, with over 100 member journalists from 27 countries. The ceremony culminates in the presentation of our Honorary Award in tribute to the achievements of one extraordinary individual.”

The winners of the 2009 IAGTO Awards were:
Golf Resort of the Year – Europe: Le Meridien Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Course, Portugal
Golf Resort of the Year – North America: Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Miami, Florida
Golf Resort of the Year – Rest of the World: Half Moon, Jamaica
Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year: Kenya
Golf Destination of the Year – Africa, the Indian Ocean & the Gulf States: Dubai
Golf Destination of the Year – Asia & Australasia: New Zealand
Golf Destination of the Year – Europe: Andalucia, Spain
Golf Destination of the Year – Latin America & the Caribbean: Dominican Republic
Golf Destination of the Year – North America: South Carolina
IAGTO Honorary Award: José María Olazábal

On accepting the IAGTO Honorary Award, José María Olazábal said: “Two years ago you invited me to announce the winners of the IAGTO Awards and I could not help but think that amateur golfers are travelling the globe more than I am! I have flown around the world for more than 20 years now and I can truly say that I have witnessed the fascinating pace of growth first hand. Today, we can play in all corners of the world and enjoy a global sport. Golf, as you know better than I and also largely due to your continuous work, has become a significant factor in the tourism industry.

He went on to say “I consider myself fortunate to not only play competitively, but to also design golf courses and thus to hopefully contribute to the internationalisation of the game we love so much. Some of our courses are already part of IAGTO destinations and I hope there will be more to come, particularly in places where golf is now only starting out.

In concluding, he said: “It was a great privilege to receive the IAGTO Honorary Award this year joining such great company in the past winners and I would like to thank you for this honour. If my health allows, I will try to play a fuller schedule this year, so please do not hesitate to say hello whenever you spot me.”

Quotes from the Award Winners:

Established Golf Destination of the Year, Latin America & Caribbean – Dominican Republic

Francisco Javier Garcia, Minister of Tourism, Dominican Republic said: “It is very important to receive this award. This constitutes a real consolidation of the development of golf in the Dominican Republic. At the moment we are developing courses of exceptional quality in the Dominican Republic. The new projects represent higher investment in 2009 than for the past four years. We will certainly use this award to continue working not only to be the number one golf destination for Latin America and the Caribbean, but to be the number one golf destination in the world. This will motivate us to try to be number one in the world.”

Established Golf Destination of the Year, North America – Coastal South Carolina

Gary Edwards, Managing Director, Coastal South Carolina said: “We are extremely honoured, humbled and encouraged that tour operators worldwide would validate our destination in such a strong way. It is an honour we do not accept lightly. It is an award for the whole industry. It is an award for the bagman who grabs the clubs out of the boot. It is an award for the people who serve refreshments on the course. Those are the people servicing the needs of the clients and the tour operators. At the end of the day we want the travellers to come back after having a happy experience. This validates that those people in the industry are doing just that.”

Established Golf Destination of the Year, Africa, Indian Ocean & Gulf States – Dubai

Christopher May, General Manager, Emirates Golf Club said: “Without doubt, this award will be gratefully received in Dubai. It will further enhance Dubai’s reputation. It is a very inspirational place to work and it comes right from the top. You have a great team of people in the hotel, golf and tourism industries promoting Dubai. It is a very exciting time in Dubai at the moment. There are plans for another 12 golf courses over the next four years so that will take it up to 20. IT will take it to another level in terms of availability of golf. The room inventory is growing as well, and the Metro is operational from next September, which will significantly help Dubai’s infrastructure.”
Thomas Rubi, general manager, hospitality, leisure & golf, Dubai Sports City said: “Being able to stake claim as the 2009 Golf Destination of the Year for our region is very important as we continually strive to make Dubai the number one international golf destination for experience, accessibility, selection and value for money.”

Established Golf Destination of the Year, Asia & Australasia – New Zealand

Pip King, Manager, The Best of Golf New Zealand said: “It is very exciting to win this award. It is recognition for us and it gives us a wonderful opportunity to leverage support for marketing golf in New Zealand in 2009. We are already starting to think about how we can use the award to get as much spotlight on New Zealand golf as we can. We are hoping the award will help to generate more interest. New Zealand is a business class or first class destination and when people get there they want to play the top golf courses.”

Established Golf Destination of the Year, Europe – Andalucia

Manuel Macias, Marketing Director, Turismo Andaluz said: “This award is very important, and it is important that it coincides with a new awareness and recognition of golf in Andalucia by the government. We now have laws regarding the construction of golf courses, underlining quality and environmental care. Andalucia is also investing a huge amount of money in infrastructure. We have a new terminal opening at Malaga Airport, a new high-speed train from Malaga to Madrid, and new motorways. We are continuing to evolve as a destination. Hosting the International Golf Travel Market is also important for us. We will be hosting IGTM again next year in Malaga. For some years a revolution has been happening in Malaga, so we would like to show it off.”

Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year - Kenya

Mwakai K Sio, Kenya Ambassador to Spain said: “This award represents a great honour and recognition for Kenya and, in particular, its tourist industry. It all goes to crown a very blessed month for Kenya, coming only three weeks after the election of Barack Obama, who has his roots in Kenya, as President of the United States of America. We warmly welcome the entire world to come and see what we have to offer, and to enjoy our hospitality. Golf in Kenya started 100 years ago. Now we have more than 40 courses in very different environments across the country, and it is a very thrilling experience to play golf in Kenya. You can play golf in the morning and then in the afternoon go on safari.”
Tob Cohen, chairman of the Kenya Golf Marketing Alliance said: “It is very good for Kenya. We have always been undiscovered as a golf destination, but now by getting this award we have been discovered. Now I hope we can get some money from the government for marketing so that we can build on this.”

Europe Golf Resort of the Year – Le Meridien Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Course, Faro, Algarve

Luis Felipe, Sales & Marketing Director, Le Meridien Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Course said: “For us it is a great honour to receive this award, especially as it comes from our business partners. It is a recognition of the excellent services we provide and all the work we have done. We have major plans for 2009-2010; we want to invest a lot of money not only in the hotel but also in the golf course, to improve the condition and get some new technology into the golf course and to upgrade the hotel. We are seeking to improve our services still further and to delight and surprise our guests.”

North America Golf Resort of the Year Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Miami

Paulo Machado, Senior Account Executive, Doral Golf Resort & Spa said; “We are thrilled and honoured to receive this award, and it will certainly help us in the future. The international market is very important to us. Marriott has spent $58 million in the last four years investing in the golf courses, hotel rooms, meeting spaces and the spa. We are in the process of revamping the Silver Course for 2009, then we will get Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio to redo the Red and Gold courses so we will have five brand name courses by 2012. We are also making the lodges feel more like a country club.”

Rest of the World Golf Resort of the Year – Half Moon, Jamaica

Aram Zerunian, General Manager, Half Moon said: “We are honoured to receive this recognition and to be named among such legendary golf resorts in the world. This award affirms the work we have invested to continuously improve our product and the quality of service offered by the over 800 men and women who work at Half Moon.”

20th November 2008

Notes for Editors

Click here for Photographs & Logos of the IAGTO Awards 2009

The Golf Destination and Golf Resort awards are voted for by IAGTO’s specialist golf tour operator members which now number over 330 from 46 different countries. Each operator was asked to vote for what they considered to be the best performing golf resorts of the year. The following criteria were considered:

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Quality of Golf Courses and Accommodation
  • Value for money
  • Support from Suppliers, Tourist Boards & Airlines
  • Professional Conduct of Suppliers
  • Accessibility to Tee Times

With the exception of the Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year Award which is voted for by the 100+ golf travel journalists from 27 countries of the Golf Travel Writers Association, who consider the following:

  • To What Extent is the Golf Destination Undiscovered
  • Qualities that make for an Interesting Golf Destination
  • Attractiveness of the Region and of the Courses
  • Golf Course Quality & Accessibility
  • Standard of Accommodation
  • Friendliness of the staff
  • Value for money
  • Speed of Play
  • Climate

Carlton Carugati – General Manager
IAGTO, 1 Trafalgar House, Grenville Place, London NW7 3SA, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 20 8906 3377
Fax: +44 (0) 20 8906 8181