Il Turismo del Golf e la Sicilia
Golf played by country residents is and golf tourism are widely increasing. In particular, golf tourism is getting increasingly important as compared to the other forms of tourism. The golf tourist has a high income, is more educated and environmentally conscious than the other classes of tourists. Furthermore he pays special attention to the quality and differentiation of golf fields. Differences in golf fields depend: a) on the actual geographical location of the field, which affects the layout and the difficulty of the game, as well as on the environmental and cultural context; b) on the degree of environmental friendliness of the field: in the 90s various national and European institutions have been established for the definition of guidelines in the planning of the fields and for the issue of quality certification; c) on maintenance: it must be noted that technology makes the use of water resources, fertilizers, pesticides, les troublesome from an environmental point of view; d) on the geographical location of facilities like hotels and residences. The golf tourist takes also particular care to the way fields are managed, favoring golf clubs and ‘play and pay’ fields to golf resorts and public fields, which usually have smaller dimensions and fewer difficulties. Furthermore, the golf tourist looks for new experiences and travels long distances. In Europe the ratio of golf players to residents is much higher in the northern countries than in the southern ones. However in northern countries weather is not as nice as in the other countries with the result that golf players tend to move south to find new fields and contexts. Sicily, like southern Spain and Portugal which are the only southern European countries with a large golf tourism, is an ideal setting for golf tourism, but the existing facilities are largely inadequate. Developing golf in this area means fundamentally taking into account the needs and the expectations of golf tourists. Cooperation between public agency and private firms is clearly desirable. Such public agency should be devoted to make sure that the new golf facilities are compatible with a proper conservation of the local environment and properly maintained. They should lead the golf fields to acquire proper certification by the European Golf Association-Ecology Unit and to develop as to meet golf tourists’ demands. Such agency should also draw a map of the areas eligible for golf fields, set up proper facilities for golf players and make sure that golf tourists can also take advantage of the other local sport facilities. It should be noted that adding golf to the existing tourism infrastructure and facilities will put the golf tourist in a position to gain more advantage from what he does in the area. The public agency could also supply local firms with the proper incentives to set up clusters and networks with the effect to generate external economies (also in relation to tour operators). Through all this a ‘golf region’ becomes established with a number of different golf fields, which will attract more a more tourists. When it comes to the localisation of residential buildings it must be noted that Sicily has a number of small towns with large rural areas around, where such buildings could be placed. Golf fields therefore could take advantage of residential facilities nearby without having to produce a negative impact on the area.
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