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Academies key to nurturing golf in Việt Nam

Update: March, 31/2019 - 09:00
Greg Norman meets with the Việt Nam Golf Tourism Association last week to talk about strategies to develop golf tourism in the country. VNS Photo Minh Thu
Viet Nam News

Legendary golfer and Việt Nam Tourism Ambassador for 2018-2021, Greg Norman, has accepted the position as supervisor of the newly-founded Việt Nam Golf Tourism Association (VGTA). He talks to Minh Thu about his commitment to bringing the country’s golf tourism to the world.

Inner Sanctum: What do you think about the potential of golf tourism in Việt Nam?

The potential is enormous.

I have been around the game for more than 40 years. I have travelled to 77 different countries. Never have I seen an opportunity for the development of golf tourism like I see in Việt Nam today.

Việt Nam is very young in many ways, young in tourism, young in golf. So they have a tremendous opportunity. I congratulate the government, I said to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc back in October, that his vision, his wisdom, and his idea for developing hospitality with golf in this country is going to pay dividends for many generations to come.

Inner Sanctum: What do you think about the mission of the VGTA and what can you do to help?

You have to put together a group of intelligent people, like-minded, who want to develop and grow golf tourism. They come together. They also need to have advice on what is the right or wrong thing to do.

I’ve seen a lot of opportunities around the world not being taken advantage of. So, the association has a very important role.

It will establish the direction of golf tourism, and it is my responsibility to guide them and give them advice in the right way to grow.

Inner Sanctum: Can you reveal some particular plans to help the association?

We haven’t put an action plan in place yet, but the most important thing is to look at this not just as international tourism, but domestic tourism too. It’s not just international golf, but domestic golf too.

So, by opening up the opportunities to young Vietnamese people to experience golf, and see what golf can do, and what economic rewards it brings, is one of my priorities. I want to make sure there is an academy where young kids can learn.

The other day at KN Links at Cam Ranh, I played with three young golfers who were so excited for the opportunity to represent Việt Nam, not only as amateurs, but potentially as professionals.

Inner Sanctum: You mentioned setting up golf academies to support young people. How do you plan to proceed?

We are working with the government to identify a location for an academy. I think it’s very important to do that.

For example, the three young boys I played with said they don’t have the ability to practise their short game, so could we build an academy to help them.

The Vietnamese Government, my company and myself can help them through an academy.

Inner Sanctum: What have you achieved after one year as Tourism Ambassador?

We have achieved a lot. It’s about my enthusiasm; I am a big believer in Việt Nam. There is a massive opportunity here.

What I’ll do for the next two and a half years in my role is not just being an ambassador, but creating 30 years of prosperity and growth for Việt Nam, for tourism, and for golf.

If I do it the right way I’ll be rewarded.

Inner Sanctum: You met with the Việt Nam Tourism Association (VITA) and intend to make a film. Could you tell us a little more about that?

We were talking about how you expose [golf tourism]. There are better ways of telling stories, so we think a documentary is a great story, maybe 15 minutes long. This would be about my time in Việt Nam, building golf courses, following the journey.

What we do today is so important. If we do it right, people in the future will be the benefactors.

Inner Sanctum: What are you short term plans?

We have to keep the energy of Việt Nam going forward, especially in golf. The rest of the world is excited to hear about what is going on here, hearing about the opportunities in growing tourism. From 15 million visitors, to 20 million, to 22 million. So today we have to keep that energy.

There will be bumps in the road, but we can smooth them out together with the government, with the association and with businesses. I met with many businesses who are deeply entrenched in Việt Nam, not just in golf and hospitality, but energy and everything. They want to understand how to get involved.

Inner Sanctum: Do you have any suggestions for the authorities?

We’ve made a lot of suggestions today. I have a great saying ­­­– a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Today, we had the first step. My other first step was on October 31, when the government asked me to be the ambassador for tourism.

I think the government has been surprised by my energy and enthusiasm, how I see the capabilities and the end result of what can happen in Việt Nam.

Inner Sanctum: You have travelled to many places in Việt Nam. Could you tell us a little about your experiences?

I have gone everywhere from the Mekong Delta up to Hà Nội. I have not been to Sa Pa yet, I would like to see Sa Pa. One area that fascinates me is the Mekong Delta, there are opportunities down there.

My first entrance into Việt Nam over a decade ago was in Đà Nẵng. I see Đà Nẵng today, in less than ten years, multiply that by the whole country over 30 years you can see the success. We built a golf course there and today they have 80,000 rounds per year.

So if we keep growing on each golf course and get that success rate, in 10 years, Việt Nam is going to be one lucky country. VNS

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