The Daytona Beach, Fla., club will be the first North American course to host the Hainan Open, a Chinese golf tournament, as part of a local effort to attract more visitors from the populous nation.
The owners of Indigo Lakes Golf Club in Daytona Beach, Fla., are looking to China and its growing middle class for new business—a trend that local tourism officials hope will attract more visitors from the world’s most populous nation, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
The golf club will become the first-ever North American course to host the Hainan Open golf tournament on August 8, an event that is part of a 27-stop Chinese golf tour, the News-Journal reported.
Club management and tourism officials hope the tournament will help the area tap into the growing number of Chinese nationals itching to travel abroad. The Chinese government expects more than 100 million of its citizens to travel outside the country this year, the News-Journal reported.
“A lot of Chinese (citizens) are looking for the next place to travel, the next place to send their children,” said Colin Jon, a Chinese-Canadian investor who is part of a group that bought Indigo Lakes Golf Club a year ago for $1.25 million.
Jon is also an executive with B.O.K. Group, a company that manufactures golf and bowling shoes in China and sponsors golf tournaments there. Those connections to the Chinese golf industry helped bring the Hainan Open to Indigo Lakes, the News-Journal reported.
The tour has stops in 22 cities in China and five in cities in other countries, including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Italy and the United States, Jon said. The event is expected to draw 120 golfers—including some of China’s top professionals—to Daytona Beach and several hundred attendees overall, including government officials from China’s Hainan Province. The tournament will be televised in China, exposing that market to Daytona Beach, the News-Journal reported.
Chinese golfers flock to the courses where their pros play, Jon said. Indigo Lakes management hopes to eventually host between 100 and 300 golfers per month because of the tournament, the News-Journal reported.
Local tourism officials would like to see that happen. Players and their families will undoubtedly scope out local restaurants and shops while they’re here, and, if they like what they see, they could come back and bring friends, said Linda McMahon, director of group sales for the Halifax Area Advertising Authority, which promotes the area to tourists.
“This could open the door on that niche market that would normally travel to Orlando or one of the other larger cities,” McMahon said. “This is not just going to be good for Indigo Lakes.”
New York City and California have historically been major destinations for Chinese tourists, said Owen Teng, tour operator and manager for Orlando-based New Creative Tours. That will continue to be the case, but many visitors from China are starting to want something new, the News-Journal reported.
“They’re kind of getting bored,” Teng said of Chinese tourists. “They’re starting to think if there are any other places (to visit).”
Orlando has been growing in popularity among Chinese travelers, and visitors there are starting to seek golf courses and other attractions outside the city itself, Teng said.
“They’re asking for things other than the theme parks—especially the beach,” Teng said. “Playing golf is one of the trends that is growing.”
The August golf tournament would also give local economic development officials a chance to show off the area, said Keith Norden, president and CEO of Team Volusia Economic Development Corp., a public-private organization that works to attract companies to the county, the News-Journal reported.
“I understand that (the golfers) are very well-heeled industry leaders,” Norden said. “They’re not coming to Volusia County to look for a site, but it will be a great opportunity to build relationships and to meet with them and talk about the quality of the workforce and investing in Volusia County.”