Hole-in-one for South Africa's Garden Route
With the Garden Route’s 14 different golf clubs, there is not only a wealth of top-notch golf courses to choose from, including Fancourt, Simola and Pezula, but the Garden Route is also a destination that holds great appeal for families. – Nils Flaatten, Wesgro CEO
The IAGTO Awards, sponsored by Etihad Airways, are the official annual awards for the golf tourism industry. The awards were established in 2000 to reward exceptional contributions to the world of golf travel.
The IAGTO's 500-plus golf tour operators from 61 countries cast their votes, with each asked to nominate what they considered to be the best-performing golf destinations this year, as enjoyed by their golf travelling clients.
The awards ceremony took place on 14 November 2013 at the spectacular Tarragona Placa De Toros (bullring) in Tarragona, Spain, at the end of the 2013 International Golf Travel Market. The Garden Route was up against nominees from Mauritius, Kenya, Abu Dhabi and Morocco.
Nils Flaatten, CEO of Wesgro, the Western Cape destination marketing, investment and trade promotion agency, collected the award on behalf of the province. Flaatten said he hopes the award encourages more golfers to visit this very beautiful part of the Western Cape and South Africa.
'With the Garden Route's 14 different golf clubs, there is not only a wealth of top-notch golf courses to choose from, including Fancourt, Simola and Pezula, but the Garden Route is also a destination that holds great appeal for families. Towns like George, Sedgefield, Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay all offer unique land and water experiences, from whale watching, elephant sanctuaries, steam cruising and tree-top canopy tours to just relaxing in a world-class spa or taking in a meal with pristine views of nature's Garden of Eden,' he said.
He added that golf tourism is one of the contributing factors in driving economic growth through tourism, and also provides jobs in areas that rely on tourism.
The Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, said he is thrilled the Garden Route has won this prestigious award. 'The golf courses of that area are some of the world's best, attracting professional players from around the world. This is a major coup for one of the Western Cape's most visited regions, and it will no doubt further boost tourism revenue and job creation in the area,' he said.
South African world-renowned professional golfer Ernie Els received the 2014 IAGTO Honorary Award. When in South Africa he stays in George, a town along the Garden Route with world-renowned golf courses. The golf course at Oubaai Golf Club, which forms part of the Hyatt Regency Golf Resort & Spa on the outskirts of George, is his first signature course in South Africa.
Fancourt, also in George, has three golf courses, all designed by South African golfing legend Gary Player.
'The Garden Route is a very special place for me and definitely a golfing destination worthy of being the Golf Destination of the Year,' said Els after collecting his award.
The Garden Route is easily accessible. Several domestic airlines offer flights into George Airport from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and Durban’s King Shaka International Airport. Visitors to South Africa can also enjoy a leisurely four-hour drive from Cape Town to George and see some of the country's most spectacular scenery along the way.