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Holding Irish Open in Northern Ireland is a boost for tourism, insists MLA

 

By Adam McKendry

Former Minister for Communities Paul Givan says that getting the Irish Open to come back north of the border is an excellent boost for tourism in Northern Ireland.

Portstewart has just finished hosting another successful tournament, following in the footsteps of Royal Portrush in 2012 and Royal County Down in 2015, as 92,534 spectators descended upon the links course.

And Givan, who attended the event himself on the Friday, says it's great to see it doing so well when it does make the journey across the border. "Getting it back initially was a big thing, firstly to Portrush in 2012 and then Newcastle and now Portstewart," he said.

"Maintaining that cycle of Northern Ireland getting its fair share of the Irish Open is something that's very important and something that the Executive were very keen to secure.

"I know there was a lot of support provided by the Executive and by the European Tour to bring it to Northern Ireland. This is a demonstration that Northern Ireland can host excellent events.

"It's a fantastic experience, Portstewart is one of the jewels in the crown of Northern Ireland golf. The fans came, the atmosphere was good and we've been treated to a fantastic spectacle with some of the scores shot by the players."

This is the final time Northern Ireland will host a tournament of this magnitude before the big one reaches our shores - the 2019 Open Championship, which will be held at the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush.

But Givan believes that having the Irish Open coming every other year will be the perfect preparation for when the Major championship does roll around.

"Of course this is the build up to The Open coming to Portrush in 2019, which is going to be a massive occasion for Northern Ireland," Givan says. "Portstewart put on a great show and when we get The Open it'll be a massive occasion."

With golf tourism such a big industry for Northern Ireland, what with so many world renowned courses across the country, having an event like this, which is broadcast all over the world, goes a long way to helping too.

"I've been able to watch a little bit of the TV coverage and they've shown a lot of the beautiful scenery around the north coast and that's something that goes all across the world when people watch it and it makes them want to come," Givan believes.

"When people see these courses they will come to Northern Ireland to play them. And that's something that will benefit our economy."

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