Jammu and Kashmir are on the verge of becoming the Gulf capital of India

The PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI) organized the 4th from October 8th to 9th, 2021 in Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir.

PHDCCI Golf Tourism Conclave took place on October 8, 2021 at the Pahalgam Club and Convention Center and brought all relevant stakeholders together on one platform – the government and the private sector – to discuss questions and opportunities to promote golf tourism.

In the keynote speech, Mr. G Kamala Vardhana Rao (IAS), Director General of the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of India said that golf tourism in India has immense potential that can boost the economy by increasing GDP and foreign exchange income and job opportunities. He stressed that golf tourism is a priority for the Department of Tourism and that the government is ready to provide the states with the support they need to advance this niche segment.

He went on to say that the emerging trend of youth golf has motivated the government and private players to improve infrastructure, including international-standard golf courses and a trained workforce. India needs to develop more golf destinations to meet the growing demand from golfers, he added.

The opening session was given by Mr. Sarmad Hafeez (IAS), Secretary – Tourism, UT of Jammu and Kashmir; SE Dr. Ashraf Shikhaliyev, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan; HE Mr. Ung Sean, Ambassador of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia; HE Mr. Willy K. Bett, High Commissioner of Kenya; HE Mr. Moe Kyaw Aung, Ambassador of Myanmar; HE Mr. Fleming Duarte, Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay; HE Mr. Ramon S. Bagatsing Jr., Ambassador of the Philippines; HE Mr. Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; Mr. Rajan Sehgal, President, India Golf Tourism Association; Mr. Saurabh Sanyal, General Secretary, PHDCCI; and Dr. Jatinder Singh, Assistant Secretary General, PHDCCI.

The ambassadors and high commissioners from Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Kenya, Myanmar, Paraguay, Philippines and Vietnam spoke about the golf courses and tourist destinations in their respective countries. They also praised the scenic beauty, scenic scenery, and golf courses of Jammu and Kashmir, which they think are more beautiful than what they have in their own countries.

Mr. Sarmad Hafeez (IAS), Secretary of Tourism, UT of Jammu and Kashmir, said golf tourists have been observed to have higher purchasing power and spend more than regular visitors. High profile golf events should be organized in India to attract local and international tourists and golf enthusiasts from all over the world.

He went on to say that Jammu and Kashmir have the strength to host year-round tourism, and as golf becomes a growing sport around the world, there are immense opportunities for golf tourism to grow in the state. Our goal is to become the golf capital of India, he added.

Mr. Rajan Sehgal, President of India Golf Tourism Association, informed that golf tourism is growing 9.3% year over year and about 1.6 million people travel for golf tourism every year. Golf attracts wealthy, value-adding tourists who generate well above-average per capita income for the destinations they frequent.

I just want to repeat and ask the government, industry and various stakeholders to take an integrated approach to improving and promoting the golf tourism sector in our country that will continue to support the development and growth of golf tourism in India, said Mr Sehgal.

A knowledge report by PHDCCI and ORG India entitled “Rejuvenating Tourism & Business through Golf: Exploring Tourism with Sports” was also published during the conclave, which states: “Awareness of golf tourism is growing rapidly around the world. It is estimated that the rate of demand and supply in golf is increasing at a constant rate of 12% annually. The results have led to an increase in the number of golf resorts and related employment opportunities. Implementing an integrated golf tourism strategy will not only enable incremental “high quality, low impact” tourism, it will also help create more jobs, education and sport, additional leisure activities, more domestic travel, housing and international investment. An intensified and aggressive advertising strategy, especially by the individual Gulf states and the Ministry of Tourism, is intended to attract golfers from the international community to India. This will also help increase foreign tourist arrivals by showcasing the country’s rich and unique culture. “

In addition, a panel discussion on “Rejuvenation of tourism and the economy through golf” was organized, which was moderated by Mr. Rajan Sehgal, President of IGTA. Panellists included Mr. Ghulam Nabi Itoo (KAS), Director – Tourism (Kashmir), UT of Jammu and Kashmir; Mr. Mushtaq Burza, President, Jammu & Kashmir Golf Association; Mr. Uday Marwah, Founder and Director, Premier Lifestyle Management; Mr. Arshad Shawl, Member of the Executive Committee, PHDCCI; and Mr. Vicky Shaw, Senior Member – Kashmir Chapter, PHDCCI.

The topic was passionately discussed by the panellists who were looking for various government interventions such as accessibility to help this sector move forward by leaps and bounds. As Indian golfers reach new heights, the sport’s popularity will increase and appeal to a larger part of the country.

PHDCCI golf tournament was organized on October 9, 2021 at the Lidder Valley Golf Course in Pahalgam. Over 84 golfers from across the country took part in the tournament, as well as local golfers from Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr. G Kamala Vardhana Rao (IAS), Director General of the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of India (IAS), Director General of the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of India, honored the occasion as the main guest and congratulated all the winners of the tournament.

Lidder Valley Golf Course proved to be a challenge even for most experienced golfers. The tournament winners were as follows:

  1. Winner category A (0-13 handicap) – Mr. Vicky Shaw
  2. Winner category B (14-24 handicap) – ER Mr. Willy K. Bett
  3. Best large – Mr. Omair Nisar
  4. Closest to pin – Mr Mushtaq Burza
  5. Longest trip – Mr. Sukhdeep Manocha
  6. Straightest ride – Mr. MP Khanna

All winners received trophies, goodie bags and gift baskets from the Thai Tourism Authority. Golfers appreciated PHDCCI’s efforts in organizing the Golf Tourism Conclave & Tournament.

The event was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism, Gujarat Tourism, VFS Global, Pahalgam Development Authority, ORG India, Golf Plus Monthly, India Golf Tourism Association, Power Gilt, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation and HDFC- Bank. It was also supported by annual sponsors such as DLF India; Multani pharmaceuticals; UFLEX; JK Tires & Industries; Marble city; Superior cables; SMC Investments and Advisors; Blossom Kochhar aroma magic; Comtech Interio; DCM Shriram Industries; Radico Khaitan; RE Rogers India; Ajit industries; Synergy environment; EasyMyTrip; Continental carrier; Woodwork; Jindal stainless steel; Modern automobiles; PS Bedi & Co; IFFCO and Hindware.