Drive for golf tourism windfall
Golf tourism could swing £50 million a year into the Northern Ireland economy by 2020, a Stormont minister has predicted.
Tourism minister Arlene Foster outlined the potential of the sector as she launched a new strategy designed to attract more travelling golfers to the region.
Golf tourism currently generates around £33 million a year.
Part of the plan is to highlight the local roots of star players Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.
"The vision of the strategy is to grow the value of golf tourism to £50 million per annum by 2020, and in doing so to remind golfers worldwide that Northern Ireland is where golf champions are born and play," said Mrs Foster.
"As a sport, as a business and as a tourism asset, golf operates on a worldwide scale so there has never been a better time for Northern Ireland - the home of champions - to formulate a new strategy to tap into its potential.
"The continuing success of our golfers, the acknowledged quality of our courses and the widespread support for the game, exemplified by the unprecedented sell-out of the Irish Open (in Portrush) in 2012, have combined to enhance Northern Ireland's status as an exceptional golf destination.
"Our reputation for golfing excellence will be increased further with the hosting of the Irish Open by Royal County Down this year, along with its return again in 2017, and indeed the prospect of holding the world's biggest golf tournament, The Open Championship, by the end of the decade."