The return of the Centara World Masters Golf Championship to Hua Hin is a boost for one of Thailand’s most popular beachside getaways, coming amid the broader easing of entry requirements and an ongoing pick-up in international tourism in 2022. Now more than at any time over the last few years, there is good cause for optimism at a local level, with Hua Hin well poised to cater for a pent-up demand for golf tourism.
In a country well known for its love of golf, Hua Hin has carved out a strong reputation as a golfing destination of choice. It features a number of world-class courses, including the Banyan and Black Mountain courses (which will be hosting the Centara World Masters, May 8-14), while – from the green-draped mountains in the west to the long white beaches stretching along the Gulf of Thailand – it provides a truly striking natural setting.
Hua Hin businesses have had to navigate some tough times in recent years, however 2022 has brought with it the promise of a fresh start. Weekends have seen a notable increase in tourist traffic, and the recent Songkran Thai New Year saw travelers arrive in their numbers, providing a welcome fillip for the local economy.
Hua Hin’s proximity to Bangkok (it’s around a three-hour drive) makes it a natural focus for domestic tourism, and – with Thailand having removed pre-departure and on-arrival testing requirements from May 1st – international tourism will be a growing focus in the 2022 second half.
The return of the Centara World Masters, Asia’s biggest and richest tournament for club golfers, will no doubt provide further momentum as Hua Hin continues to welcome back international visitors.
As noted by Jan Weisheit, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin Hotel Manager, while the hospitality sector has faced its fair share of challenges recently, Thailand’s “phased relaxation of restrictions has indeed been very encouraging”.
“The reopening of Thailand has been well received, especially at properties like ours with a long heritage and a large percentage of returning guests from overseas who visit year after year,” Jan commented.
“We have been delighted to welcome back many familiar faces, as well as new guests who are again exploring the Kingdom.”
With it being the sixth year that Centara Hotels & Resorts has hosted the Centara World Masters, and the first year following the two-year COVID-enforced hiatus, Jan described it as “a very exciting and symbolic moment for us, and for Thailand”.
Highlighting the event’s local importance, he noted it is “one of the most anticipated annual events on the Hua Hin calendar”.
“Hundreds of players and their families arrive from all over the world for the six-day event, so the impact on the local economy is substantial,” he said.
“In addition to the golf courses hosting the tournament, the local transportation companies, restaurants and shops all receive a boost for their businesses.
“Together, we have the opportunity to showcase our beautiful seaside town and warm Thai hospitality on the international stage, which is very exciting!”
Moving forward: Travel to Asia back on the agenda
Substantial progress has already been made in 2022 towards reviving tourism in the broader Asian region. It’s been a busy period as countries have variously been relaxing entry requirements and welcoming back international travelers. After the restrictions of the past two years, domestic and international travel is firmly back on the agenda, with momentum to continue building in the remainder of 2022.
In Hua Hin, the streets are noticeably busier. More shops have been opening their doors, capitalizing on increasing foot traffic. The beachside sellers have become greater in number, while more foldout chairs and umbrellas dot the white sands. In the evenings music livens the winding restaurant and bar alleys, with the buzz of scooters forming a familiar backdrop. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest tourism is on its way back.
As an established golfing destination, Hua Hin will no doubt be on the radar of keen golf travelers the world over. In fact, previous instalments of the Centara World Masters have seen golfers fly in from Iceland, France, Switzerland, Dubai, Canada and South Africa, giving the event a truly international flavor.
It isn’t hard to envisage things taking off quickly, with Jan highlighting the potential for tourism to bounce back strongly.
“We are very optimistic on the recovery of tourism in Thailand, especially with the gradual lifting of travel restrictions, which will simplify the arrival process and make it more attractive for travelers,” he said.
“The next milestone is the lifting of the Thailand Pass, which if announced soon, will undoubtedly be a boon for the upcoming high season.
“Golf tourism is an important market for us – not only in Hua Hin but across the country in Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui, where golfers can find world-class golf courses – and we are all looking forward to welcoming guests back to Thailand in the very near future.”
Hua Hin is one of Thailand’s premier beach resort getaways and a golfing destination of choice:
Located – a short three-hour drive south of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand.
World-class golf – has twice won the International Association of Golf Tour Operators award for Asia Golf Destination of the Year (most recently in 2019).
Golf courses – is host to numerous courses, including the world-class Banyan and Black Mountain courses.
Natural attractions – two of Thailand’s top national parks, Khao Sam Roi Yot to the south and Kaeng Krachan to the west, are within a day trip of Hua Hin. Not to mention the many beaches that stretch along the coastline.
Tourist attractions – the Hua Hin night market is a popular tourist attraction, along with the Cicada and Tamarind night markets. If you’re looking for some thrills and spills, the Black Mountain Water Park features nine different water slides.
Nightlife – there are lively pockets of restaurants, live music venues, clubs and bars to be found throughout Hua Hin.