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|Secret Valley Golf Club is one of Cyprus' three principal golf courses clustered around the popular seaside town of Paphos. (Clive Agran/WorldGolf.com)|
PAFOS, Cyprus - How many golf courses does it take to make a golf holiday destination? Cyprus already has three 18-hole courses and one, curiously, of 12 holes. Even with another one due to open in 2010, is that enough?
Probably not, which is why the government in general - and the Cyprus Tourist Organisation in particular - is doing what it can to encourage developers to build more.
It is actively promoting golf courses because tourism is vitally important to this delightful Mediterranean island, and it recognizes that golfers make attractive tourists because their daily spend is extremely high, and, just as important, they are happy to golf at what would otherwise be the rump of the season in the not-so-hot months of October to April.
Although it was never planned this way, Cyprus is fortunate in that the three principal golf courses - Secret Valley Golf Club, Minthis Hills Golf Club and Aphrodite Hills Golf Resort - are all clustered around the popular seaside town of Paphos.
And what's more, the new Nick Faldo Palmerston Anatolikon course, about which there is considerable excitement, is also just 10 minutes to the east of Paphos. On top of all that, Paphos also has a brand new airport with connections all over Europe. In a sense, therefore, the island already has a golf destination even if it's not a full-fledged destination itself.
Most of the golfers presently visiting Cyprus are from the UK and Scandinavia, with a few Germans thrown in for good luck. And that is not expected to change dramatically.
What the island lacks in number of golf courses it comfortably makes up in many other ways.
Tagged "the island for all seasons," it's famous for the warmth of its Mediterranean sun that shines brightly throughout the year; the breathtaking coastline, craggy mountain scenery and extraordinary natural beauty; legend, history and culture that stretches back over 10,000 years; a whole range of recreational activities from water sports to hiking and biking; wonderful cuisine and wine; and, finally, the exuberant friendliness of its people. An intoxicating and attractive mix that has made it enormously popular, especially with Europeans.
Cyprus certainly also has the necessary infrastructure. The roads are excellent, and there are hundreds of hotels from the comparatively modest to the simply luxurious. The only commodity of which it is rather short is water. The stuff you drink, not swim in. Two or three years of drought and the fear of global warming has resulted in the ringing of several alarm bells.
The shortage of water is, of course, acutely relevant to the often vexed issue of irrigating golf courses. Acutely conscious of this, the existing golf courses in Cyprus have gone to extreme lengths to harvest their rainfall and be self-sufficient. However, there are some opponents of golf courses who are unhappy with the whole idea of building more. In so far as is possible, their fears and concerns have to be met, and both the government and prospective developers are conscious of this.
Keen to emulate such quality golf destinations like Mallorca - which has 19 courses - the government of Cyprus has set a target of 14, which it believes will establish it as a serious player in the field. It has also appointed Maro Kazepi as its golf tourism coordinator. Energetic, knowledgeable and an enthusiastic novice golfer, she has been given the task of making it all happen. For more information, visit www.visitcyprus.com.
November 4, 2009
Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses.
Known as Australia's "Vacation State," Queensland is full of natural wonders and wildlife, making it an exotic holiday destination for both travelers abroad and native Australians. While the state is better known for the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands than it is for golf, Queensland is still full of courses along the coast for visitors to enjoy.
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