KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: The European Tour can act as a “showcase” for Saudi Arabia and could give a media boost to the country, according to one of the leading executive figures in golf.
Guy Kinnings, deputy CEO of the European Tour and director of the Ryder Cup — who was formerly the manager of professional golfer Colin Montgomerie — said major sporing events often bring a positive economic and public-relations impact.
Speaking at the European Tour event, which was held in King Abdullah Economic City and concluded on Sunday, Kinnings told Arab News how he sees golf playing out when it comes to “Brand Saudi Arabia.”
Q: What kind of economic impact can sporting events like the European Tour have in Saudi Arabia?
A: The reason golf can have such a positive impact, is that it becomes such a great showcase for the venue it goes to. People around the world will be seeing the best players on a beautiful golf course, in great weather, and will be seeing something of the country that is hosting it. And that brings a certain cache and value with it. As to what the exact value will be of a tournament, there are lots of different ways of quantifying it. I’ve seen an awful lot of golf tournaments over the years. This (in Saudi Arabia) is really impressive, if you look at what’s been achieved and the ambition that’s being shown.
Q: The event has attracted both positive and negative headlines globally. Tell us what impact the European Tour event can have on “Brand Saudi Arabia.”
A: I think everyone realized that there were going to be challenges … But the goal here is to try to work with what is a very ambitious vision for developing the game in Saudi Arabia. The idea (is to build) a number of golf courses, which will hopefully lead to investment and employment, and create potentially inward investment tourism. People always talk about why countries invest in a golf business … my understanding is that research has shown that a golf tourist tends to invest six to eight times more than a regular tourist. I believe the intention is to build a number of new golf courses following this, which will showcase different parts of the country.
Q: A lot of media reports said players got huge appearance fees. If that’s the case, how long before an event like this can be sustainable?
A: These people help raise the profile of the tournament … they provide big value in media exposure, sponsors and and crowds.