Belfast Telegraph

Rooms left at north coast inns ahead of Irish Open golf tournament

Owners of holiday accommodation in Portrush have expressed surprise that there are still rooms available ahead of next month’s Irish Open golf tournament.

Interest in staying overnight to catch every tee of the upcoming event is not as high as expected, according to B&B owner Gwynne Fletcher who told the BBC: "There's not a lot of interest, like what I thought there should have been.”

Though enthusiasm for the event has been fuelled by the success of Northern Ireland’s trio of famous golfers, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graham McDowell, it seems many spectators do not intend to stay overnight.

And while many hotels on the north coast are fully booked, estate agent Philip Tweedie said fewer of the B&Bs and other holiday apartments were but conceded a last minute rush was likely.

"There hasn't been a great uptake from the private individual wishing to rent for the week," he said.

"We do envisage that might change closer to the time, but probably the expectation, from our perspective, is that a lot of the ticket sales have been Northern Ireland-based and therefore people may be considering just coming up and down on the day."

There are also fears among some traders that park-and-ride schemes to control traffic may divert business away from the town.

Concerns also exist about the possibility of a no-readmission policy, which would leave ticket holders out in the cold and unable to re-enter should they leave for a period.

The European Tour which organises the event, has not yet claried whether such a policy will operate or not.

Don Wilmont from Causeway, Coast and Glens Tourism spoke to quell concerns, stating his belief that the tournament would be of great benefit to Portrush, in both the short and longer term.

"The event will be a wonderful boost to the economy," he said.

"But even more importantly - there will be a legacy from the event.

"We're working very hard to establish this region as the top region for golf in the island of Ireland and certainly the Irish Open will be a big plus for us in that respect."

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