Anthony Webber. Editor-At-Large. iGTN. China Mission Hills. Asia’s finest honored in IAGTO Excellence Awards. The awards, sponsored by Etihad Airways and held at the gala dinner during the annual IAGTO Asia Golf Tourism Convention at Mission Hills Hainan, recognize the vision and contribution of golf tourism leaders as well as the outstanding achievements of golf courses in the Asia Pacific region.
They form a new addition to the prestigious annual IAGTO Awards, awarded each year at the end of the International Golf Travel Market and regarded as the golf tourism industry’s “Oscars”.
The new honors comprise Diamond, Platinum and Pearl Awards. Over the past decade, IAGTO has carried out golf tourism audits of over 250 golf courses and golf resorts worldwide, assessing each course through the eyes of a first-time golf visitor. Four Diamond Awards have been awarded to courses assessed by IAGTO which offer the best possible experience to the visiting golf traveler.
“Therefore this is more than just an award,” IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton told the audience at the Gala Dinner. “These presentations mark the beginning of a new IAGTO Certification program through which we will identify, recognize and highlight the best golf travel experiences that every country worldwide has to offer.”
Winners of the new IAGTO Diamond Awards are sister golf resorts Mission Hills Haikou and Mission Hills Shenzhen which together offer 22 golf courses, the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort in Indonesia and Vietnam’s Danang Golf Club.
Explaining the new Platinum Award, Walton told guests at the Gala Dinner: “We have designed the IAGTO Platinum Award to recognize truly exceptional achievement by golf tourism companies. To qualify for this award a company must clearly stand out from the crowd. Again, one of the finest examples of this not only in Asia but around the world – is right under our feet. The first-ever IAGTO Platinum Award for Exceptional Achievement goes to Mission Hills China for creating, here in Haikou, the World’s Outstanding Golf & Spa Resort.
The Pearl Award represents a new direction for IAGTO Awards honors, recognizing the achievements of individuals in the golf tourism industry as opposed to companies.
Recipient of the first Pearl Award is Kullatorn Mesommont, President of the East Coast Golf Course Management Association in Pattaya, Thailand.
Walton explained that the Pearl Award was presented to an individual who had made a “unique contribution to his community over many years” and followed on perfectly from the Sustainability and Social Responsibility Awards that were launched at the IAGTO Awards last November. “The recipient has made a tangible difference to the quality of lives of the working people of last year’s AGTC venue of Pattaya, Thailand, particularly with his wonderful Caddy Program and for his selfless work for the golf tourism industry over the past 17 years,” he said.
The IAGTO Legacy Award has been designed as an occasional award, presented only to individuals who have made the greatest impact in the world of golf tourism. The first recipients of the honor are the Chu Family, whose vision has resulted in the creation of both Mission Hills’ resorts and the establishment of golf tournaments that have attracted the world’s best golfers to China.
Walton told guests at the gala dinner: “In recognition of their pioneering vision and leadership; for quite simply putting China on the map as a golf destination; and for their continued dedication to shape its’ future and secure its’ destiny…it gives me enormous pleasure to present the inaugural IAGTO Legacy Award not to just one individual but to a truly remarkable family.”
The award, shaped like a double helix, bears the inscription “Golf in their DNA” and was received by Mission Hills Group Vice Chairman Tenniel Chu.
The 3rd annual IAGTO Asia Golf Tourism Convention attracted a record 194 golf tour operators from 32 countries, up by 30% on the ground-breaking 2012 AGTC event held in Pattaya, Thailand. Key tour operator delegations attending were from China, Australia, and Singapore, with buyers from destinations as far afield as the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Vietnam, the UK and the USA. Almost 150 supplier companies attended the event from 19 countries, including Fiji, Mauritius, Cambodia, Vietnam, and India as well as the established destinations of Thailand, Malaysia and host destination China.
The winners of the IAGTO Excellence Awards are:
Mission Hills Haikou, China
Mission Hills Shenzhen, China
Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort, Indonesia
Danang Golf Club, Vietnam
Kullatorn Messommont, President, East Coast Golf Course Management Association, Pattaya, Thailand
Mission Hills China
IAGTO Legacy Award
The Chu Family, Mission Hills