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Irish Open on ball for tourism gong

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Wales' Jamie Donaldson won last year's Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club

Wales' Jamie Donaldson won last year's Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Wales' Jamie Donaldson won last year's Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club

Last year's record-breaking Irish Open golf tournament at Royal Portrush has been awarded a top tourism accolade.

The competition on the scenic North Coast, which was the first European Tour tournament to ever sell out, was named Event of the Year at the annual tourism awards ceremony in Belfast.

The gala dinner marked the best achievements in what was a big year for the industry.

Tourism was centre stage throughout 2012 as a consequence of the high-profile "Our Time, Our Place" promotional campaign.

Last year marked both the centenary of the Titanic's sinking and the opening of the new £97 million Titanic Belfast visitor attraction in the old shipyard where the doomed liner was built. The landmark building was awarded the outstanding contribution gong at the ceremony, organised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) in partnership with Diageo Northern Ireland.

Other notable winners included Martin McCrossan, of City Tours in Derry, who picked up the Local Tourism Hero award.

Congratulating the winners at Thursday night's event in the Waterfront Hall, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: "Tonight we can applaud the best in tourism and all that is great about our industry after what I believe was one the most significant years in its history.

"There is no doubt that ni2012 moved tourism into a key position in the Northern Ireland economy.

"Its legacy is a firm foundation that we can build on and use to increase our future prosperity. Its success is something that we have all created and it is something in which we can all share tonight.

"As Tourism Minister, one of my priorities is to make sure we keep the momentum going. Through the high-profile events that are coming up in 2013 we are creating further opportunities for tourism and I am sure everyone in the industry will be doing everything possible to take advantage of them."