By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A MAJOR golf tournament to be held at the One & Only Ocean Club in May is expected to generate more than 4,000 room nights, the Minister of Tourism said yesterday, with officials expecting “at least a four-fold return” on their $1.5 million investment.
The Bahamas is set to host the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Classic - its first ever official LPGA tournament - on US Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26. The event, which will be featured on the Golf Channel to an audience of 247 million, will include four rounds and 72 holes.
“We are projecting about 4,000 room nights, which is very significant,” said Obie Wilchcombe.
“There are the others who will come. There are the players, all the members of the LPGA and, of course, the families and fans. We expect to have a tremendous amount of supporters flying into the Bahamas, so expect the numbers to go up significantly.”
He added: “We seek to have this event be the best event ever. We went this to become one of the signature events in our Commonwealth. We are seeking to introduce the Bahamas as this wonderful place for sports tourism and appeal to a sector of individuals globally.
“For us, we are delighted because it creates worldwide awareness by showcasing the islands of the Bahamas through the Golf Channel worldwide, and the audience of some 247 million covering some 171 countries. It connects the islands of the Bahamas to a brand of growing LPGA players. It gives the islands of the Bahamas the benefits of tremendous marketing.”
The Ministry of Tourism’s director-general, David Johnson, said the Ministry had invested $1.5 million into the event.
“The event is a $5-$6 million event. We expect at least a four-fold return from that investment, that’s barring the publicity, which is far more expensive than $4-$5 million in value,” said Mr Johnson.
Jon Podany, the LPGA’s chief marketing officer, said the tournament will be televised live on the Golf Channel on all four days for a minimum of two hours per day.
“That telecast will be fed around the world, so that will be distributed to 170 countries and nearly 250 million households around the world,” said Mr Podany.
“In terms of what attracted us here, I think there are a number of variables. First of all it’s a premiere destination in the world, a fantastic golf course, and the Atlantis venue in particular. Not only will this tournament be broadcast around the world but we have websites in numerous languages, and players come from around the world. Right now the top Rolex-ranked players in the world represent nine different countries. It truly is a melting pot of the world.”
Jill Crumbasher, vice-president of marketing for Pure Silk, said: “From the very beginning we have said that we wanted the event to be all about the players. We want them to have a fantastic time and participate in a competition that they enjoy.
“We have had a great relationship with LPGA over the past few years. We really love to celebrate successful women no matter what they do in their lives. This is another way for us to do that. We are just really excited to partner here in the Bahamas, bring ingthem to a beautiful location and to a great resort.”
The field will consist of 144 players, including the world’s top female golfers.