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PORTUGAL - Tourism

Miguel Franco de Sousa

President, Portuguese Golf Federation


Miguel Franco de Sousa is President of Portuguese Golf Federation.

"As a sports federation, our responsibility lies on promoting participation, organizing competitions and national teams, and providing golf clubs with the necessary tools to pursue these goals."
The Portuguese Golf Federation is laser focused on growing the game in Portugal and dispelling misconceptions.
Could you share the inception story of the Portuguese Golf Federation and highlight its journey in promoting and supporting the development of golf in Portugal?

One of the PGF goals is to grow the game of golf in our territory. Golf embraces tremendous challenges due to some misconceptions, so we must get the right message across as a healthy, family, and fun game. Many of our golf courses already provide an excellent environment for newcomers, so all we need is to get people to the golf facilities. The recently launched beginners’ program—9 ½ Weeks —proved to be a great success. More than 20 clubs from around the country are delivering this program and the results have been very positive. Our work is more focused on those golf facilities whose clients are mainly locals, as the traditionally touristic regions do not lack clients.

The FPG emphasizes the importance of sustainability. How does the federation contribute to the development of sustainable sports facilities and events, and could you provide examples of successful initiatives in this regard?

Golf is without any doubt a very sustainable sport in a broad sense of the word. Golf courses create and maintain direct and indirect jobs within their communities. Golf has a tremendous economic impact in Portugal. According to a Deloitte study carried out in 2018, the direct and indirect economic impact of golf is EUR2 billion. And, finally, all our golf courses are extremely concerned about their footprint. Due to the water scarcity, Portuguese golf courses are working very hard to reduce their water consumption. Some of the works include the transition from cool season grasses to warm season grasses, the reduction of the grassed area, the installation of meteorological stations, and state-of-the-art irrigation systems, so every drop of water is carefully used. Legislation is being designed to limit the use of chemical products on golf courses and this will dramatically affect playing conditions. We are working very closely with the European Golf Association to guarantee that the EU sees golf as a specific sport, considering its impact on many European regions, and eases the potential limitations in the future.

How integral is the formation of strategic partnerships to the Portuguese Golf Federation´s mission and its efforts to foster sustainable golf development?

We are a mere facilitator in this area as golf courses are extremely professionally managed and no golf course owner wants to spend more than the minimum necessary. As a federation we do have privileged contacts with local and national authorities, and we have been developing initiatives to assist the golfing industry to promote a sustainable sport. Some of those initiatives include, among others, the analysis of water efficiency in golf courses, developed by Turismo de Portugal in conjunction with the PGF and CNIG, and, more recently, a seminar about the use of treated water to irrigate golf courses. I strongly believe we are going in the right direction, but we keep facing some blowback from ideological groups that simply use soundbites to harm the golfing industry, ignoring all its benefits to the communities, the environment, and the economy.

With a focus on golf tourism, how does the FPG collaborate with stakeholders to promote Portugal as a golf destination, and what role does the federation play in fostering innovation within the golf industry?

As a sports federation, our responsibility lies on promoting participation, organizing competitions and national teams, and providing golf clubs with the necessary tools to pursue these goals. Nevertheless, we end up promoting Portugal as golf destination through our international championships, in particular the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos. The PGF has been establishing a networking system with all stakeholders so we can find the right solutions for the various challenges we face. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a tremendous lack of strategy in terms of promoting Portugal as one of the greatest golf destinations in the world. Recently we were awarded the World’s Best Golf Destination by the World Golf Awards, but the national authorities are disinvesting in the promotion of Portugal abroad. The abandonment of the Portugal Masters and the dramatic reduction of the Open de Portugal at Royal Obidos financial support are signs of concern to the golfing industry.



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