Jennifer Boss (left) and April Ross compete on their way to gold at the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Phuket Thailand Open
2009 – The SWATCH FIVB World Tour will return to the beautiful Thai resort of Phuket for a fourth-straight year in 2009, with the finest women’s players set to revisit the beaches of one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
The US$190,000 single-gender Phuket Open is set for November 3-8 on Karon Beach. Tournament Director Geoffrey Rowe, on a visit to FIVB headquarters in Lausanne on Thursday, explained the attraction the event holds for Beach Volleyball’s premier players and the role it is playing in the ongoing promotion of Phuket after the devastating tsunami in 2004.
“Phuket is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and we play the tournament on a natural beach. It is one of a few stops on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour by the sea so the players enjoy it because when they finish a game they can go for a swim and enjoy the surroundings,” said Rowe.
“It was very important after the tsunami that beaches were still there and safe, and having an international tournament in such a location, which is televised worldwide, is now seen as critical in helping attract more visitors.
“The Thailand authorities are looking at sports as a way to attract more people into key tourist destinations and having sports on the beach is one of the best ways to do this,” said Rowe.
Karon Beach is a stunning stretch of sand on the western coast of Phuket in an upmarket area that includes a number of excellent restaurants and hotels.
In three years of Open competition there, some of the world’s best Beach Volleyball pairs have delighted a burgeoning crowd of enthusiastic locals and tourists, with USA’s April Ross and Jennifer Boss claiming gold in 2008.
Rowe has also been pleased with the Thai teams’ performances: “Thailand has some good women’s teams. Last year the two teams finished joint-13th place. In the region, in the women’s game, Thailand is strongest.”
The 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Tour is set to have total prize money of US$7.7 million. To date, there are expected to be a total of 18 women’s tournaments and 15 men’s tournaments.