President of PGA Tours Latin America says “Nicaragua is ideal for golf and retirement”
**Four thousand tourists play golf at Guacalito every year
By Auxiliadora Rosales
Translation: Karen Ayestas
It can’t be denied that golf tourism is a strategic segment for many destinations. It is an up and coming industry that is becoming both a social and health trend. Nicaragua has jumped on this at a grand scale by hosting the first edition of a professional golf tournament for the PGA Tours Latin America in Guacalito de la Isla, where 144 golfers from all over the world took part. It monopolized the attention of local as well as international press for seven days.
Jack Warfield, president of PGA Tours Latino America told NICARAGUA TURISMO E INVERSIÓN (NTI) that up until now the country had not been considered as a golf destination, much like the rest of Central America, but that they have seen that a lot of work has been done to reach the high standards of the golf industry, and the potential that exists for this sport is enormous. “The golf course at Guacalito is definitely among the best, very comparable to the best internationally, and we were very surprised”, he said.
The president of PGA Tours Latin America is recommending Nicaragua not only as a spectacular place for relaxation and entertainment, but also for those who are thinking about retirement. “Any tourist would love to come here because there are a number of spectacular locations to visit. But it is also an excellent option for foreigners thinking about retirement because there are many beautiful places and the cost of living is not high. It is a place where anyone would love to live”.
AMONG THOSE WHO SPEND THE MOST
Warfield stressed that golfers are tourists who spend on average much more than other tourists because they stay for several days, they enjoy playing on different golf courses, they eat at the best restaurants, and they visit different places.
Guacalito de la Isla golf director, Gustavo Betancourt, says that the speedy growth of tourism in Nicaragua has motivated them to increase their promotion of the golf segment, which caters to between three and four thousand tourists who visit to play the game. They hope to surpass these numbers in 2017 and 2018 by holding the GPA Tours Latin America tournaments, organized by Flor de Caña Open and presented by The Mortgage Store.
Betancourt explains that Nicaragua has a course of international stature at Guacalito, which is considered one of the best in the world. It was designed by Scottish designer David Mclay Kidd and has 18 holes over 7,000 yards. It has all of the conditions necessary for playing golf at a professional level. “Golfers never expect what they find at Guacalito; they are always surprised. They have a different idea of what Nicaragua is; that is why they are pleasantly surprised when they get to Guacalito”.
And on the golf course itself, players find a challenging course set between a forest and the Pacific Ocean. It is a pleasant and welcoming place where the sound of the waves mixes with those of wild animals.
According to Betancourt, “We are overcoming all of the difficulties. One of the biggest was transportation from the airport in Managua to the resort, but last year’s opening of the Costa Esmeralda Airport solved that problem. Travel time was reduced from two hours to 25 minutes”.
GOLF PROSPECTS FOR 2020
An HSBC report on golf tourism trends in 2020 shows the importance of golf in tourism strategies for a number of destinations. And it mentions that “between 20% and 30% of regular golfers take yearly vacations with the main objective of playing golf. Furthermore, the daily expenditure of these travelers is double that of the average expenditure of a conventional tourist”.
- It also points out that golf clubs are becoming more family oriented. Courses are often being adapted for junior players because this segment is comprised more and more of younger players.
- There will also be facilities certified “Women Friendly” as this sport is becoming more and more unisex; men and women will share their leisure time, similar to what has happened with cycling in other markets.