Worldwide, the golfing industry generates between $300 billion and $350 billion annually.
Admittedly, golf is still considered an elitist sport on account of the relatively high expense involved in equiping yourself.
Some 50 million people play the game, and among is leading lights, is Tiger Woods, despite a drop in form. However there is a lucrative niche market in golfing vacations. These are golfers whose only wish is to play at the most challenging courses around the world.
This is an opportunity successful businessman James Musinguzi Garuga could not slip pass. The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has also jumped in to help market this venture in the lush green hills of Kanungu District, in western Uganda.
Garuga, who invested $2 million in the project, said it will boost the economy of the district and drive tourism numbers to the area.
“We have national parks nearby this golf course. We hope that people after playing golf or visitors after visiting the national parks, (vice versa), can visit the national parks or come to the golf course to play golf,” Edwin Muzahura the UTB Marketing and Public Relations Manager said.
The scenery is spectacular. Kanungu borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. The area is surrounded by the top Gorilla home, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It’s also near the Ishaha Side of Queen Elizabeth National Park where golfers can easily see the tree climbing lions.
Muzahura said because golf is mainly a sport for high-income earners, the presence and opening of the 18-hole Garuga Golf Course provides a huge opportunity to interest locals and high earning visitors to visit the different tourism attractions including tea plantations and mount biking expeditions.
Because of the presence of scheduled flights by Aerolink and Eagle Air charters, Garuga Golf Course provides a promotional boost for domestic air travel to Kanungu.
“Like today. All hotels are fully booked. They are making money because we’re opening such a wonderful facility. If we can have more and more people use this facility, they will stay longer in our hotels hence locals making money,” Garuga said.
He said the golf course and the air strip will open up opportunities for people in Kanungu to set up more lodges and accommodation facilities as large numbers of tourists are expected to trek in.
The opening of the Garuga Golf Course coincided with the Third Paul Ngorogoza Memorial Golf Tournament that was won by Silver Opio, a professional golfer. He carded 66 and 71 pars to win the Ush10million grand prize.
Paul Ngorogoza is believed to be the first Mukiga (tribe in Western Uganda) to have sat on an aeroplane in the early 1950s. He also gly aocated for the migration of the Bakiga tribe into different parts of Uganda due to their high population growth rate with limited land.
Golf tourism is still a brand new tourism concept. The Uganda Tourism Board hopes that with proper marketing and promotion, in the future, top golfers like Roy Maclloy, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mikelsson will travel to Uganda to play the sport.
Garuga Golf Course is one of the most challenging golf courses in Uganda.
Needless to say a guest appearance by Tiger Woods would be an added attraction for the course.
Source : East African Business Week