Tourism boosted by £14m
GOLF tourism brings around £14m per year to the local economy, with the average spend per golf visitor coming in at £300-£450 – significantly higher than the average visitor spend, according to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
The sport has long been targeted as a growth industry by tourism chiefs and government ministers.
Back in 2011 Tourism Ireland launched a £1.8m promotional campaign to bring thousands of golf fans to Northern Ireland with advertisements screened on TVs across the UK and the US.
The Home of Champions adverts also ran in key golf, business and financial publications.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said many commentators now label Northern Ireland the "golfing capital of the world" thanks to Major-winning players Graham McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy.
Last month, the First and Deputy First Ministers attended the UBS Hong Kong Open aiming to sell Northern Ireland as a tourist destination.
Tourism chiefs have also backed a controversial £100m golf resort near the Giant's Causeway.
Even though work on Bushmills Dunes is due to begin this autumn after a failed legal challenge by the National Trust, a new Unesco report has recommended the scheme should not be allowed.
NITB chairman Howard Hastings said: "Golf tourism is a key market segment for the tourism industry and the development of a world class links golf resort is recognised as an important step in realising the potential of this."