North coast could tee up £100m bonanza thanks to Irish Open
The north coast region is in line for a potential £100m-plus financial boost from hosting The Open golf tournament next summer, it has emerged.
The news comes after a report showed this year's Open championship generated £120m for the Scottish economy.
The Open - one of golf's most prestigious tournaments - is returning to Portrush next July for the first time since 1951.
An independent study carried out by Sheffield Hallam University shows the huge economic benefits brought about by the event.
Coleraine UUP councillor William McCandless said preparations are well under way for next summer's golf spectacular at Royal Portrush, and believes it can help turn the region into the island's premier tourist destination.
Mr McCandless said: "We've been preparing during the last two council terms and looking at getting Coleraine and the north coast area, particularly Portrush and Portstewart, ready to be the premier tourist destination in all of Ireland, and that is not an idle boast.
"We've worked well with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
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"Everybody has worked well with us to make it a flagship area.
"We've all seen the stats of people who will return after an Open has been.
"So this isn't just looking at what we had with the success of Portstewart.
"On from that, we're looking for Portrush to put us on the map."
Some 172,000 people attended this year's event at Carnoustie with almost half of spectators (49.8%) coming from outside Scotland.
"We know the ripple effect of that will spread out into Coleraine and further afield," added Mr McCandless.
"In March we'll be holding a workshop to look at how to keep the momentum going."
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director of championships at organisers the R&A, outlined the boost that our economy could receive.
"The independent economic impact and market-sizing analysis confirms that The Open at Royal Portrush will be the largest sport event to be staged in Northern Ireland," he said.
An estimated £17.5m will be spent off course during the tournament.