Tourism stakeholders in Malindi have added sports into their menu as a way of attracting tourists in the area.

The stakeholders came together and revived the defunct Malindi Golf and Country Club that is currently featuring national tournaments.

With the introduction of the annual Vasco Da Gama Cup golf tournament, the area is set to witness a turnaround in tourism numbers.

Started in 1962, the Malindi Golf and Country Club which sits on a 135 acre piece of land along the sand dunes had been neglected and was at the risk of being invaded by squatters and land grabbers but tourism players acted on time to save it.

The club has a 13 hole golf course with a membership of 150 active members and 30 junior golfers that are learning golf and tennis as well as a restaurant.

Mr. Tukero Ole Kina, the chairman, says that the golf course is five holes short of the 18 holes to enable the club to host international events.

“Sports tourism is a very important element in the world over and if we are able to have our 18 holes then we will be able to hold international events and that is what we are looking up to. We have at least five holes to go which we have programmed to be able to develop them in future to make this 18 hole golf ready,” he says.

He admits that since its incorporation in 1962, the club which is a member of the Kenya Golf Union (KGU) and the Ladies Golf Union (LGU), the club has been idle.

“The club was incorporated in 1962 and we have had various activities but very limited in scope. This is the very first event we are holding that incorporates all the amateurs in Kenya that want to challenge our course and it is also the first time for the Kenya Golf Union to support this event,” he says.

He adds that in the last five years as chairman, the club has managed to get its 135 acres fenced and irrigation systems installed and the remaining work requires about Sh. 30 million to make it an international course.

“The club has done very well in the last few years, we managed to put a chain link fence around the 135 acres and with about Sh. 30 million we will be able to finalize on the few remaining holes and the irrigation system. Being the golf club in Malindi we must recognize its importance not only for the sporting fraternity but also for employment opportunities for people who work here” he adds.

During the three day Vasco Da Gama Cup tournament that ended on Sunday and that attracted 120 Amateurs golfers, Ugandan Michael Alunga won with 146 points followed by Isaac Makokha with 149 points while Sammy Mulama emerged third with 155 points.

Alunga expressed his excitement for participating and being the first ever winner of the Vasco Da Gama Cup.

“This has been my first win in the first tournament in Malindi and I am very happy. My biggest challenge was on the bouncy course although it is in good shape,” he said.

Mr. Njani Ndiritu who is the chairman of the Kenya Golf Union said that the Vasco Da Gama tournament has been added to the rank of events that the KGU runs and promises full support.

“For us as a union we are thrilled to be part of this first event that is dubbed the Vasco Da Gama Cup, we run a series of Top Amateur events. Currently we are running 23 events and this is the latest event to join the ranking. What happens is that points are carried over for those top amateurs when they come in and pick any event and if they win they get points depending on the size of the field, days played and number of holes and I believe there is a potential of sports tourism in this region,” he says.

Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro lauded the initiative saying that it will go a long way in attracting and retaining local, regional and international tourists.

“The uniqueness of the Cup, the Vasco Da Gama will go a long way in marketing the town in terms of tourism and as a County we will also build a sports complex that will attract more sporting activities to boost tourism,” he said.

He also challenged the incoming county assembly to pass a bill that will enable the County to have its own version of the Kilifi Tourism Board that will help market the County as a tourism destination.

“The County assembly will pass a bill to create the Kilifi County Tourism Board with the help of tourism stakeholders so that we can have our own marketing for tourism in Kilifi County,” he said.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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