The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, held recently at Heritage Resorts, was intended to give a further boost to golf. It has been played in Mauritius for more than 170 years and has blossomed over the last twenty years in both sporting and business terms.

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During a gala dinner held on 10 May to celebrate the first ever tri-sanctioned golf tournament held at the Heritage Golf Club, Mauritius’ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Xavier-Luc Duval stated that the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts “will have an enormous impact on Mauritius and in particular on golfing activities here. Our government is banking on golf as we believe it has enormous potential; Mauritius can become a major golfing destination.”

Underlining the “excellent collaboration” between the public and private sectors on the project “based on a common vision and love for the country”, the minister also took the opportunity to thank the three golf tours – European, Asian and Sunshine – for believing in the ability of a small island to organise such an important event. He also announced the launch of a special low-season promotion, running from mid-May to September, with interesting offers for golf tourists. In particular, they will have access to all golf courses on the island for a nominal fee.

Played on the island since 1844, when the Mauritius Military Gymkhana Club was set up in Vacoas (see later article), golf was only developed as a tourist attraction in the early 1990s. This was followed in 1994 by the founding of the Mauritius Golf Federation. There are now eight championship courses in Mauritius, including the Heritage Golf Club, Beachcomber’s Paradis Golf Club, in which Rogers’ has a stake-holding, and the Anahita Golf Club, where the 2016 tournament will be held (see later article).

Patrice Legris, Alteo Properties’ Chief Executive Officer, says it was natural for Anahita to be involved in the event. “For some time, we have been associated with various tournaments in Mauritius that have attracted golfers’ interest. When we were approached by the Rogers Group some time back, the idea of such an ambitious, indeed unprecedented, project, greatly appealed to us. It fits in very well with the steps we have taken to make the East of the island a destination for golfers.”

Having been involved in the 2015 tournament as a partner and sponsor, as well having lent technical assistance, next year it will be the turn of the Anahita Golf Club to take up the challenge. “We shall have the advantage of having seen the organisation and collaboration behind this year’s event. Given its scale, both in terms of the number and quality of golfers taking part and in the organisation and media coverage, the tournament requires more resources than normal.”

Golf in Mauritius is becoming increasingly important to the local economy, representing some 6% of tourist arrivals, with 550 to 600 jobs directly dependent on it and a further 200 to 300 indirectly. The golfing guest typically spends 20 to 25% more than the average tourist, according to Michael Geerdharry, who is the Manager – Golf Sales & Promotion of Veranda Leisure & Hospitality (VLH), Rogers’ hospitality sector, as well as being the president of the Mauritius Golf Tourism Association (MGTA). The MGTA is an NGO that aims to provide Mauritius with greater international visibility, promoting golfing possibilities here as the best kept holiday secret in the Indian Ocean.

Amongst other things, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts will have increased the destination’s visibility on the Asian market. Michael is optimistic. “We predict that as a direct result there will be a corresponding increase in the number of golf tourist arrivals. The golf low season should see a steady increase in demand from Asia and China.” Moreover, the MGTA is working with the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators to arrange for the Asia Golf Tourism Convention to be held in Mauritius within the next two or three years. The event should attract 500 delegates from 32 countries, including 150 golf tour operators.

“Mauritius is able to stand out from other destinations thanks to an exceptional combination of golfing and other elements,” Michael adds. “Our trump cards are the close proximity of our hotels, golf courses and beaches to each other, a climate where play is possible throughout the year, the quality of our golf courses, holiday packages that include golf, the quality of our services and above all the warm welcome guests receive from our highly professional staff teams.”

Next year at Anahita...

According to Blyth Reid, who runs the Anahita Golf Club, “Those taking part next year can expect to find an excellent and brilliantly laid-out course, in perfect condition and well up to international standards.” The setting is spectacular and every hole is different. It is on this par 72, 6,828-metre course, designed by the legendary Ernie Els, that the 2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open will be held. Blyth Reid already has considerable experience of major events, including the World Golf Championships in London in 2006 and the Scottish Open. A Scot himself, he has also worked in South Africa for the best part of twelve years.He and his team leant a hand with the arrangements for this year’s event at the Heritage Golf Club and he knows that he can count on a similarly positive collaborative spirit and on the two clubs’ combined expertise for the success of the 2016 event.

Blyth Reid, Director of Golf, Anahita Golf Club.
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