£20k for Co Antrim holiday home - accommodation prices soar for The Open at Portrush
Holiday accommodation providers in Portrush have hiked their usual rates for when the town hosts The Open golf championship next July.
Online booking sites such as Booking.com and Airbnb have listed rooms in dozens of B&Bs in Portrush, Portstewart, Coleraine and Bushmills that are charging up to £7,700 for July 14-21, 2019.
One B&B in Portrush is charging £3,225 for the duration of The Open, while another is asking a huge £7,000. And if you have a spare £20,020, you can stay at a holiday home in Bushmills.
Several accommodation providers were contacted by the Belfast Telegraph and confirmed that the prices quoted on Booking.com and Airbnb were correct.
Eye-watering prices for self-catering accommodation are also listed on the stayattheopen.com site, ranging from a two-bed duplex apartment in Portrush costing £3,500, to £25,500 for an eight-bedroom semi-detached house in the town.
Most of the three to four bedroom self-catering facilities will set golf fans back around £16,000 for those with deep pockets or unlucky enough to live too far to travel, which equates to an average of £4,000 per room.
The hike in accommodation costs has not gone unnoticed on social media and has sparked a furore.
A Twitter account set up to promote the north coast, which goes under the name @ILoveNorthCoast, commented on a thread about the cost of accommodation for the week of The Open, saying "this can only damage our reputation".
A spokeswoman for Tourism NI said the advice offered to holiday accommodation providers is to look beyond the one week of The Open competition.
She said: "Tourism NI encourages the industry to adopt a fair pricing approach and take a longer term perspective that will not damage the image of Northern Ireland tourism.
"The 148th Open at Royal Portrush offers many opportunities and international tour operators are looking to do business with accommodation providers not just in 2019 but in the years beyond the tournament, and will seek to work with providers who offer a fair price. With a wide-range of stunning hotels, bespoke B&Bs and self-serviced apartments to choose from across Northern Ireland, spectators are encouraged to plan their trip in advance as accommodation is in high demand."
An estimated 100,000 people are expected to visit the seaside town next July when the prestigious golfing competition makes a return to Royal Portrush Golf Club, which is hosting The Open for the second time in its 149-year history.
The vast majority of holiday accommodation providers have already filled their rooms at a healthy profit, but at prices more in line with the usual increase for large events.
Frank McGrath, captain of Knock Golf Club on the outskirts of Belfast, said most of Northern Ireland's golf fraternity will make day trips to see the action at Royal Portrush.
He said: "I wouldn't imagine any of our members or the members of any golf club in Northern Ireland will book into Portrush for the week, especially at those prices.
"The admission cost for the full week to Royal Portrush is £300 so I think most people, including our members, will go for a day or two and either travel by car or train.
"I think the people who will be paying these high prices will be people connected to the competition, and they won't be coming back to Portrush."
The Stayattheopen website was contacted for a comment but didn't respond.