Tunisia looks to its golfing future

Tunisia, Jewel of the Mediterranean, looks to its golfing future

EGTMA members played in a 4-day competition whilst in TunisiaIn the twelve months following the 2010/11 Revolution in Tunisia, the number of tourists visiting the North African country decreased dramatically and income derived from the tourist sector declined by almost 40%.

To counter this situation, The Tunisian Ministry of Tourism launched a European campaign in the early months of 2012 to attract visitors back to the country.

As part of this process, members of the European Golf & Travel Media Association were invited to see for themselves that Tunisia was still very much open to tourism and so a 5-day visit was organised at the end of April 2012.

Twenty-five EGTMA members from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Sweden, France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, USA and UK visited the country with, of course, the Top 100 Team represented in the list of delegates.

Just one of the spectacular holes on the back nine at Le ResidenceEl Kantaoui was the first port of call and its 18-hole Sea layout was the course of choice at this 36-hole complex. Moving on to Hammamet, the Yasmine Valley and Citrus (La Forêt) courses were sampled before the golfing element of the visit concluded at Le Residence in Tunis.

In between rounds of golf, cultural tours were arranged to take in the sights and sounds of the Medina and port in Sousse, the Medina and ancient Fort in Hammamet, the museum and historical site at Carthage and the charming little cliff top village of Sidi Bou Said.

A press conference was held after the final round of golf when a number of questions were asked of Tunisian Minister of Tourism Elyes El Fakhfakh including whether an open skies policy might be established to help bring low-cost carrier airlines into the country.

Roman ruins discovered during the 1990s at CarthageThe Minister was also reminded of Morocco’s “Blue Plan,” designed to cope with increased demand by developing up to a dozen new golf courses along its Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines before 2015.

It may be early days in the life of the new national government but a similar ambitious strategy might well be required if Tunisia is to compete on equal terms with its North African neighbour.

Eleven courses are featured on the Top100 site, ten of which are ranked and Flamingo Monastir is classed as a gem. This course at has been closed for two years now for refurbishment and it’s due to reopen later in 2012.

In advance of the EGTMA visit, there was never any doubt about the architectural integrity of the courses in Tunisia because most were laid out by the renowned designer Ron Fream in the 1990s.

What was of potential concern was the possible poor conditioning of the courses but, from what EGTMA members experienced, that’s a non-issue as all were beautifully presented to a very high standard.

Jim McCann

Editor
www.top100golfcourses.com