Belfast Telegraph

The Open may bring Northern Ireland a £120m windfall

Rory McIlroy makes his first appearance at The Open practice day
Rory McIlroy makes his first appearance at The Open practice day
The name Niall was placed in 83rd place on the list.
Tiger Woods
USA’s Rickie Fowler tees off the 4th on practice day three
Phil Mickelson signs a prosthetic leg
Graeme McDowell chats to young fans
One of the private jets which arrived at City of Derry Airport for The Open
Alison Clarke
David Feherty; Darren Clarke and wife Alison; Samantha Barry; Royal Portrush captain Robert Barry; Liz Hilton; R&A captain Chris Hilton, and Stephen Watson at a reception hosted by Royal Portrush
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Early forecasts of the windfall from hosting the 148th Open Championship in Portrush could have underestimated the economic benefits by at least 50%, according to a report commissioned into last year's event in Scotland.

Tourist chiefs have estimated that bringing the famous tournament back to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 could be worth £80m to the economy here.

But a report into the 147th Open at Carnoustie has said the prestigious tournament was worth £120m for Scotland last year.

Sheffield Hallam University's Sport Industry Research Centre found that the event itself, which attracted a record 172,000 fans, delivered an economic benefit of £69m.

But the researchers said Scotland also profited from £51m in destination marketing activity thanks to The Open being broadcast on television to more than 600m households in 193 countries worldwide.

The study - which was commissioned by golf's governing body The R&A, VisitScotland and Angus Council in eastern Scotland - also concluded that the Angus area alone received a £21m injection of new money from The Open.

But this year's event is expected to smash the crowd record set last year by Carnoustie.

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Some 215,000 spectators are due to flock to the Dunluce Links course at Royal Portrush this week. Thousands have already turned up in the days leading up to tomorrow morning's official start of the event.

Organisers said the demand from crowds to attend practice rounds has been unprecedented, with all £35 tickets sold out for yesterday's session.

The Sheffield Hallam report into last year's Open Championship also pinpoints the potential tourism boost the north coast can expect in the next year.

The research found that 62% of outside visitors to Carnoustie last year indicated they would return to the region for a break within 12 months.

Speaking yesterday, a Tourism NI spokesperson said: "The estimated combined economic benefit to Northern Ireland from hosting The Open is £80m, which includes spend outside of the event and media value."

The tourism body estimates that hotels, shops, restaurants and bars in the Causeway Coast and Glens region will see more than £18m spent during the Championship. It has also put the number of new jobs created for the event at 1,500.

"In addition to this, broadcast coverage of The Open will reach approximately 85m people in over 600 million households worldwide, with images of Northern Ireland as a key destination for golf and tourism showcased across the globe.

"With 215,000 spectators and visitors from across the world in attendance, it is shaping up to be the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland."

Even at £80m, the economic benefit from The Open far exceeds that of any other major event in recent history here.

The 2013 gathering of the G8 leaders at Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh was initially estimated to be worth £40m to the Northern Ireland economy.

However, it later transpired that the cost of hosting the event was £92m, with £23m funded from the Northern Ireland public purse. A report by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council later put the benefit to the district at just £4m.

The Giro D'Italia in 2014 was estimated to have generated £12.7m, while Northern Ireland's first ever All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Derry in 2013 generated over £15m for the economy, according to Tourism NI. The tourist body also estimated that its year-long 'Our Time, Our Place' campaign in 2012 generated over £40m.

Belfast Telegraph