Dominican Republic voted Golf Destination of the Year ? This as many Latino pro?s attending golf classic from baseball hero of Boston Red Sox

The International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) chose the Dominican Republic as Golf Destination of Year during its IAGTO Awards 2009 celebrations that took place on 20 November at the Estepona Congress and Exhibition Center in Spain on the last day of the International Golf Travel Market.

IAGTO is the global trade organization for the golf tourism industry, comprising more than 1,130 companies in 74 countries, including over 330 specialist golf tour operators in 46 countries. IAGTO operators control more than 80% of golf holiday packages sold worldwide (outside of Asia) and in 2007 their turnover exceeded ?1 billion.

IAGTO’s Chief Executive, Peter Walton, said, “The annual golf holiday is the highlight of the golfing year for many of the world’s 50 million players, and the IAGTO Awards serve to reward a few exceptional contributions to this world of golf travel“.

Upon receiving the award for Santo Domingo, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia said: “It is very important to receive this award. This constitutes a real consolidation of the development of golf in the Dominican Republic. At the moment we are developing courses of exceptional quality in the Dominican Republic. The new projects represent higher investment in 2009 than for the past four years. We will certainly use this award to continue working not only to become the number one golf destination for Latin America and the Caribbean, but the number one golf destination in the world. This will motivate us to try to become number one in the world.”

IAGTO’s specialist golf tour operator members, now numbering over 330 from 46 countries, vote for the awards. Each operator was asked to vote for what they considered to be the best performing golf resorts of the year. The criteria for choosing the winners encompassed customer satisfaction, quality of golf courses and accommodation, value for money, support from suppliers, tourist boards and airlines, professional conduct of suppliers and accessibility to tee times.

Several of the world’s leading golf designers have courses in the DR or are designing courses in the DR. These include Pete Dye, P.B. Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson and Severiano Ballesteros.

Meanwhile – Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollings, Mariano Rivera, Torri Hunter, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada, Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez have accepted David Ortiz’s invitation to play in the inaugural David Ortiz Celebrities Golf Classic scheduled for 4-7 December at Punta Espada, Cap Cana in the Punta Cana area. The event is a fundraiser for programs for children with medical problems supported by the Boston Red Sox slugger.

This fundraising event provides an opportunity for my teammates, friends and corporate sponsors from the world of sports and entertainment to join us in our efforts to raise funds for this cause while experiencing my beloved home country, the Dominican Republic. Anyone who joins us – whether to play golf or just to enjoy the festivities – will be helping to make a difference,” says Ortiz.

In June 2008 UNICEF presented David Ortiz with the Children’s Champions Award, the first time that a sports personality has been awarded this prestigious humanitarian prize.

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