Mauritius has the ambition of becoming a world class golfing destination. How do you assess that objective, and how does this fit with your goal as the title sponsor of AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open?
The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open is being positioned as an attractive and important sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere. We expect that over the years leading professionals will be attracted to participate. In the course of that journey the Island is also being positioned as a leading Golfing destination with 9 championship golf courses, all set around pristine beauty and unique landscapes. The great thing is that it is one of the few golfing destinations that can be combined with as a family holiday, with numerous options to engage in exciting alternatives, while some family members play their round of 18 holes.
Golf tourism is an extremely valuable market and offers interesting perspectives. The Real Estate Development around golf courses can be an attractive destination for a home or second home. It is equally a peaceful place to live and work from the veranda of your beautiful villa overlooking the lush green fairway with expansive views of the Indian Ocean. Our finding shows that golf tourism is evolving fast in emerging markets such as Asia and the Middle East. As the sport continues to experience strong growth, the opportunity for success in Mauritius should increase. The golf industry alone creates an impact of around USD 70 billion annually and the signs are positive that this growth will endure.
The effort has also commenced to popularize the sport locally in Mauritius, as well as to continue to attract more and more golfing holiday tourists. This will require travel packages to be tweaked. The focus on making golf a family sport will have to be thought through well. You cannot attract families and then not have a method of involving the whole family in the sport! The changes are already visible, and Mauritius is leading that change. Data shows that golf tourism is on the rise and so there are new golf courses on the drawing board.
The reputation that this tournament has built over its last 3 editions makes me believe that it will leave a longstanding mark on the country, strengthening Mauritius’s overall international positioning as a golfing destination, an offshore financial centre of repute, and position AfrAsia Bank as a global service provider in the financial industry.
What wider socio-economic impact does AfrAsia Bank expect to see from bringing in events such as this one?
The sports industry has exceeded its position as a mere form of leisure or entertainment, to become one of the biggest industries in the world today. Staging a golf event such as AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open comes with the prospect of a large economic windfall. The spill over effect on industries, individuals, and communities is wide-ranging. At the outset the objective is to showcase Mauritius as one of the best golfing, tourist, financial, and investment destinations. By extension it also becomes possible to bring to the fore the vibrancy of Mauritius as a lifestyle hub, with its numerous residential luxury projects and the outdoor experience that the destination has to offer.
We also ensure that tangible benefits filter down to community. AfrAsia Bank has curated a number of projects aimed at social sustainability. Among those, we have created the AfrAsia Golf Academy, under the aegis of the AfrAsia Foundation, initiating over 45 underprivileged children to golf. This program is intended to grow the game of golf within the local community, while helping to set youngsters out on a journey of healthy lifestyles and sportsmanship. We continuously look forward to adopting an inclusive approach by reinforcing support to the communities AfrAsia Group operates in.
How does the Mauritius Open sponsorship align with the bank’s overall strategy?
First and foremost, sponsorship has to be integrated. Being associated with a sport that a lot of our clients follow and play has the advantage of building a long-term competitive advantage for our brand. This explains why this tournament occupies an important place in our sponsorship portfolio. Also, this exclusive partnership indicates our commitment to establish the “Mauritius Brand” on a global platform.
In such a tournament, we are one stakeholder in the journey. With the support of the 28 sponsors from various industry sectors and the collaborative efforts between Government, Private and Public sectors, this tournament indicates our commitment to work in an effective Public Private Partnership. From the bank’s perspective, this sponsorship has been a catalyst to improve our brand recognition in different locations across the globe. Our client base today spans over 138 countries. Our findings also confirm that the event is broadcast globally, with noticeable penetration in the Asian market, where we have close ties. It is a different event, possibly positioned as an occasion that combines a competition with a family holiday, fitting in well with our ‘Bank Different’ tag.