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An Interview with Pansy Gonsalvez – Viya Golf, Abu Dhabi

by IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators)

Ahead of this year’s AGTC in Abu Dhabi, we are delighted to bring you an interview with Pansy Gonsalvez, who, more than anyone, has helped to make IAGTO’s first convention in the Gulf States happen! The interview was conducted by GMS.

You’ve been part of different stages of the company growth and development over the last few years. Could you tell us more about your career since joining Dubai Golf & Viya Golf?

Pansy Gonsalvez:

“I come from a travel background, specializing in sports and business travel, while focusing on leisure. I was given the opportunity to manage the operations for Dubai Golf’s Destination Management Company division which added another facet to my industry experience. I accepted the position as it was a new challenge to me.

When I began my journey with Dubai Golf, we managed 3 golf clubs, namely Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and Nad Al Sheba. Dubai Golf then went on to managing Jumeirah Golf Estates and in December 2020, Topgolf Dubai was added to the portfolio. The most recent additions are the must play Abu Dhabi courses, namely, Yas Links, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Acres. The company has evolved so much over the years and I’m absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to evolve with it. I can’t believe it will have been 20 years this July.”

Abu Dhabi is developing into one of the world’s most exciting destinations. What do you think makes Abu Dhabi different from other locations in the region?

Pansy Gonsalvez:

“Abu Dhabi has carved a niche for itself. The capital is now a sought-after leisure destination, with modern attractions while still maintaining its traditions. The theme parks go hand in hand with traditional sports such as falconry and camel racing. There is a tremendous focus on developing its own individuality and making the city a cultural hub. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Abrahamic Family House are some of the incredible cultural sights. The Guggenheim and the Zayed National Museum are also coming soon.

We have high-quality hotels, white sandy beaches, fantastic golf courses, year-round sunshine and first-class hospitality. Etihad Airways connects Abu Dhabi to major cities around the globe. It is also the only airline in the region that offers free golf bags on flights, which is a great USP for golfers.”

You briefly mentioned the courses that are already part of your portfolio in Abu Dhabi, but wonder if you could give us maybe just your favourite characteristic about each one of them?

Pansy Gonsalvez:

“We have three golf clubs, each with its own unique characteristics. Designed by Kyle Phillips, Yas Links is the only true links course in the region and plays host to the DP World Tour Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. As a high handicap player, it poses quite a challenge for me, with the last 3 holes offering a testing and dramatic finish. The course is extremely scenic, with holes hugging the coastline, the clubhouse in the background, and Ferrari World in the distance.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, a Gary Player Design, is a personal favorite of mine.  A beachfront course with gazelles roaming around freely brings a whole new aesthetic to the course. The course is also Audubon certified.

Yas Acres Golf & Country Club, which opened just a couple of years ago, is a 9 hole, floodlit course, in immaculate condition and offers the best practice facilities in the region. It gives golfers the opportunity to experience both day & night golf. This makes for a fun, relaxed start to one’s golf trip.”

Can you tell us more about the Viya App? Which are the main benefits for anyone arriving in Abu Dhabi?

Pansy Gonsalvez:

“The Viya app is free to download and easy to use, offering an array of high-quality restaurants, fitness centres, UAE golf courses and leisure experiences. One can take advantage of the many exclusive Viya offers and enjoy instant rewards on every spend, earning loyalty points, which are redeemable at any of our partner outlets.  It is our way of giving back to customers and promoting Viya partners. Viya keeps you engaged and invites you back with special offers. It keeps you in the know!”

Abu Dhabi will host the Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC), one of the most important and recognised golf tourism events from around the world. How special is this moment for you and what will be Viya Golf’s involvement during the week?

Pansy Gonsalvez:

“This will be the first dedicated golf convention in the region and I am extremely excited that Abu Dhabi is hosting it. I have tried a few times to bring the convention to the region and am thrilled it is finally happening. A big thank you to the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi, for supporting this initiative. The event will serve as a platform to showcase and build awareness of the city to the visiting industry partners, who will be attending from various parts of the world.

The AGTC golf tournament will be held on the 20th March with a full field of 200 players; it’s a fantastic opportunity for our industry peers to experience first-hand the courses and for us, at Viya Golf, to showcase the amazing Yas Links Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

It’s been a fantastic 20 years with Dubai Golf & Viya Golf. I love what I do, I enjoy my role, I’ve learned a lot and have grown with the company. I look forward to the continuous growth and achievements of Dubai Golf & Viya Golf and continuing to be part of its success story.”

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