A KPMG study in 2014 found that the Dominican Republic (23% of the total supply; 28 golf courses) and Puerto Rico (17% of the total supply; 28 golf courses) is still ruling the Caribbean golf tourism market. Standalone golf courses (40%) are still dominating the golf supply in the region. Although there is an intention to integrate golf into resorts.
An IAGTO North America study estimated in 2015 that the golf tourism’s contribution to the Dominican economy is over US$200 million annually. This sounds good, but the country and golf club owners cannot avoid to solve the water usage issue and pay more attention to sustainability. Water is probably the most expensive golf course maintenance cost!
What can impress golf tourists in the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic today, has 7 golf courses offering 86 holes on or overlooking the ocean. 37 golf holes are directly on either the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. For instance, every one of Playa Grande’s (originally design by Robert Trent Jones Sr.; recently his son Rees Jones remodeled the golf course)18 holes offers stirring views of the Atlantic Ocean, 10 of them playing right along the edge of 100-foot sea cliffs (see picture below). Another Robert Trent Jones Sr. golf course is the Playa Dorada Golf Club in Puerto Plata.
Of course I could highlight many attractive golf courses like the Jack Nicklaus-designed Punta Espada golf course next to the sea (13 of its 18 holes have ocean views), the Tom Fazio-designed Corales Golf Club or the Pete Dye-designed Casa de Campo Resort.
However, what is more important, how these golf clubs understand the current tourism trends:
- The end of mass/general offers: How do we use Big Data to provide personalized offers to prospects?
- What is your answer to the sharing economy and P2P services (Peer-to-Peer travel)? Today Airbnb ($25.5 billion) is more valuable than Hyatt Hotels Corporation ($6.7). Even so, P2P travel service providers had little impact on the golf tourism industry.
- The mobile booking channel became mainstream. Can you provide satisfying mobile services (beyond mobile friendly website!)? Is your golf course mobile friendly?
- Do you have multigenerational offers? What can you offer to Millennials?
- What can you offer to 84 million+ Chinese tourists and 1.1 million Chinese golfers?
- Do you cooperate with golf travel bloggers? Michael Ball – the founder of Traverse said “16% of travel companies working with bloggers is much higher than it was a few years ago”
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