BRG Group chairwoman Nguyen Thi Nga, honoured in the list of Asia’s most powerful people in golf at the annual Asia Pacific Golf Summit (APGS) in 2018, plays an important role in promoting the development of golf tourism with an optimistic and forward-thinking view of the tourism industry as a whole.
BRG group has been a solid sponsor for numerous high profile golf courses for many years. With nearly 20 years experience in the golf industry, can you share more about the benefits that golf tourism brings to local people and Vietnam’s economy in general?
I will first talk about travel. According to statistics from Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, foreign tourists usually stay in Vietnam for an average of just two days. They do not tend to spend large amounts of money and the rate of returning tourists is low. However, the appearance of golf has helped change this trend. Tourists who come to Vietnam to play golf tend to stay longer, as golf is a slow sport and a game can take up a full day.
I often share about a record set at King Island golf course by a Japanese guest. He stayed at Nikko Hanoi hotel (now Hotel du Parc Hanoi) for a week, appearing on the golf course each day and playing 108 holes a day without stopping from 5.30am until 6.30pm. Many foreigners now come to Vietnam to play golf in groups of 12-20 people. If we make good use of this opportunity, working with the local tourism industry to introduce more beautiful destinations within our country, I think we can entice these guests to stay longer. BRG group is also helping to develop the hospitality industry, we have attracted more customers and encouraged them to stay longer by offering attractive golf tour packages.
In the period 2019-2020, we expect 90 holes to be added to the five golf courses of BRG Golf Resort, creating jobs for an additional 2,500 employees. Currently we have 21,600 employees, and this number is expected to rise to 24,100. This is really an encouraging result. Each year a golf course can become a destination for at least 100,000 international tourists, so we can attract in the region of 500,000 tourists a year between our five golf courses. Further to the one million visitors of BRG’s group’s golf courses and hotels, we can welcome a possible 1.5 million visitors by 2020. In the near future, we will launch a new golf course in Tuong Linh commune, Kim Bang district, Ha Nam province. The area is mountainous and full of attractive landscapes, often referred to as “Halong Bay on land”. World-class golf designer Nicklaus Design has designed golf holes in rose filled valleys which are set to be truly special and something we expect to be on our recommendations list for golfers in Vietnam. We also have a number of special golf courses located by the sea such as Do Son (Haiphong) and those in Quang Nam and Hue. These localities own some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. The aim of these was to combine traditional tourism and golf tourism to create popular tourist resorts.
While there is now a high number of good golf courses in the country, quantity must always come with quality. In your opinion, what is the basis for us to believe in Vietnam’s world-class golf courses capable of attracting more tourists?
Over the past year, Vietnam’s golf industry has made huge leaps, with the country now being named in the list of the most attractive golf tourism destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. BRG group owns many high-ranked golf courses in Asia and around the world.
The first factor that attracts golfers to any golf course is the quality of the course which includes challenging design, followed by quality of service. BRG group pays great attention to training. All of our golf courses are run by foreign experts, the condition of the golf courses are carefully maintained and the quality of service is always highly appreciated by our guests. King Island golf course has been named amongst the top 10 best golf courses in Asia for six consecutive years, and BRG Danang Golf Resort designed by world golf legend Greg Norman has also been honoured in the top 10 at the Asia - Pacific Golf Summit for three consecutive years. In addition, all of BRG’s golf courses are fully equipped with modern facilities for golfers.
One of the second important factors to reinforce the belief in the future of golf tourism in Vietnam is the growing presence of celebrities who come here to play golf and relax, such as American actor Morgan Freeman who was a guest at Legend Hill and commented: “This is a great golf course of high quality, not inferior to any top quality golf course in America.” Another guest was 100-year-old Steve Melnikoff, who wanted to play at the 100 most beautiful golf courses in the world to celebrate his special birthday. Neary 10 years ago, the Malaysian king and his wife also came to Vietnam and celebrated the king’s 79th birthday at King Island golf course. This course was also the location of the final of the “Mercedes - Benz Masters’ Vietnam” tournament sponsored by Mercedes for three consecutive years.
These are all very special milestones for golf developers like BRG in particular as well as many golf developers in Vietnam. At the same time, they also provide motivation for us to continue to believe in the path we have chosen.
As well as the long-standing King Island golf course and well-known Nicklaus-designed Legend Hill, BRG Golf is also continuing to develop beautiful golf courses of international standard in the Central Coast region. How is this plan being implemented by BRG group?
The Central Coast is an area which receives lots of sunshine and wind and doesn’t have a cold season, factors which make it a favourable destination for developing golf tourism. Last January, the Tourism Department of the Central provinces, chaired by Danang, established the Vietnam Golf Coast. We were very active in this, initiative having two golf courses: BRG Danang Golf Resort, designed by Greg Norman, the second world golf legend and Asia’s first true bulkhead course designed by world leading golf course Architects, Nicklaus Design.
We also sent an expert to participate in the plan to establish the Vietnam Golf Coast, and they organised a competition for guests to experience BRG Danang Golf Resort. After the Golf Association was established, all BRG courses will coordinate with other members such as Laguna Golf Lang Co, Bana Hills Golf Club, Montgomerie Links, Vinpearl Golf Nam Hoi An and upcoming golf course Hoiana Shores Golf Club to offer common products, creating the power to attract tourists to the Central region with its many scenic spots and beautiful beaches. This combination will contribute to increasing teamwork, helping us to better interact and support each other, raising the profile of golf tourism in the Central region while creating a special attraction for domestic golfers.
How does BRG group plan to develop Vietnam’s golf tourism in the future?
We are currently the leading group in Vietnam in terms of golf courses with the largest number of players, beautiful landscapes, the best quality turf condition and especially the standard rolling speed of the ball. In addition, we are also rated as having the best caddie quality in Vietnam with international standard clubs and facilities. Therefore, BRG Golf is always the top destination for golf tourism for tourists. In the future, we will continue to develop more golf courses in places where the landscape does not reach its full potential.