Golf News for Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | Events

Tony Fernandes named keynote speaker for 2013 Asia Pacific Golf Summit

Golf course closures. Reduced rounds played. Diminishing membership. Little or no hope of a turn-around.

All common laments so typical of the golf industry especially in the western hemisphere. Are these the sign of the times? You bet! Virtually every industry spawned in the 20th Century has come under extreme stress and duress from the grease-lightning pace of change that the first and second decades of the 21st Century have witnessed. Those that have not been able to adapt and change have disappeared into oblivion.

Golf is no exception. It has to change. It needs new inspiration. It needs to get imaginative. And it needs to become relevant to the changing times.

Perhaps Asia can help propel golf into a whole new realm of change. Asia is dynamic. Asia is growing at an unprecedented rate of progress. It is young, vibrant and full of scope and hope for growth in all fields of human endeavour. It has what it takes to change the ancient game of golf.

And the ideal change agent to give the industry that urgent shove is Tony Fernandes, entrepreneur extraordinaire - the ultimate dreamer and adventurer in business. This exceptional man will be the Keynote Speaker at the 2013 Asia Pacific Golf Summit to be staged in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 5 - 7, 2013.

The host venue for APGS 2013 will be the world-class five-star Shangri-la Hotel Jakarta, a hotel known for its exquisite ambience and much talked about service standards.

In announcing the host nation for APGS 2013, Mike Sebastian, Chief Executive Officer of the Asia Pacific Golf Group, the owner and producer of the Summit, said: "We are absolutely excited about the selection of Indonesia as the host nation - it is a massive country that is on the move and nowhere in the region is the interest and fervour in golf more dramatic than it is in this nation, the third most populous on the planet.

"The sprawling archipelago of Indonesia is home to some of the finest golf courses in the world and it is has somehow managed to stay under the golf radar for quite some time. With the Summit, we hope to change all of this and bring Indonesia to the forefront of the golf scene in Southeast Asia."

Fernandes, voted FORBES ASIA's 2010 Businessman of the Year is best known for turning around debt-ridden carrier Air Asia and paving the way for budget travel in the region. His diverse portfolio now ranges from a Formula 1 racing team and a British sports car maker to a mobile phone provider.

Fernandes's odyssey started when he bought Air Asia from a Malaysian government-owned company in September 2001 for a mere US$.30 cents.

Air Asia was heavily indebted at the time. Fernandes set about reforming the airline as a short-haul low cost carrier, similar to those operating in the West. The decision revolutionised short-haul flights around Asia and Fernandes saw his business expand rapidly.

The company grew from two planes in 2002 to a current fleet size of more than 120 aircraft with 355 more on order. Its domestic and international flights cover more than 400 destinations spanning 25 countries ferrying more than 30 million people.

How does he do it? His mantra is to "dream the impossible, believe the unbelievable, never take no for an answer". He allows his staff to work on their passions because he believes that people work best when allowed to work their passions - they go the extra mile. He is media savvy and is ultra aware of the changes in the world. Most importantly, his businesses give superb value to his customers, all with a very big cheerful smile.

Fernandes is so revolutionary in his thinking that he will soon take on the role of Donald Trump in Asia. He'll play the Donald Trump role in the TV show "The Apprentice Asia", in which he will size up 12 contestants from across the region as they compete in various tasks and then conduct the climactic job interview that ends with one hopeful going home each week. The applicant left standing after 13 episodes wins the top prize-a one-year contract to work for at least a US$100,000 salary at one of Fernandes' many companies.

Sony Pictures Television Networks Asia, which is co-producing the show with FremantleMedia Asia, says Fernandes is a perfect fit as "the ultimate dreamer and adventurer in business."

Fernandes is ranked amongst Malaysia's richest entrepreneurs and is said to have a nett worth in excess of US$600 million dollars.

APGS 2013 will be staged in Jakarta from November 5-7 and will include three major events:
• 2013 Asia Pacific Golf Summit
• 2013 Campus On The Greens Symposium
• Inaugural Southeast Asia Club Managers' Summit

"We expect APGS 2013 to be one of the best attended and supported in the series so far and we also expect to announce some really high quality and outstanding speakers for this year's event," said Sebastian.

Based on initial forecasts, some 500 delegates made up of golf course owners, operators, general managers, golf course superintendents and members of the trade are expected to register for the event.

Sebastian said: "APGS is now in its seventh year and it has matured into the best business to business and knowledge event for golf in the Asia Pacific. We have now come to a nation that is the future of golf in the region. We see a burning desire to grow the game of golf and a determination and commitment to witness the realisation of this goal.

"Together with our partners, and the various stake-holders, we are confident that APGS 2013 will set new milestones for the growth of golf in Southeast Asia."

Inaugurated in 2007 in Singapore, the Summit was staged at Mission Hills in Shenzhen, China in 2008 before moving to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in 2009. In 2010 it was the Thai capital of Bangkok that hosted the Summit with the coastal resort town of Pattaya the venue in 2011. Last year, the Summit went to Brunei's Empire Hotel & Country Club.