Irish Open to Boost Northern Irish Tourism

By Steve Wynne-Jones
Irish Open to Boost Northern Irish Tourism

The sell-out Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the Royal County Down course will have a major impact on Northern Ireland's tourism sector, says Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell.

The tournament was championed by Northern Ireland native and world number one Rory McIlroy, and the success of the event means that there has "never been a better time" to cash in on the popularity of the sport to promote golf tourism in the country, says Bell.

Some 90,000 tickets were sold for the event and Bell stated the potential the success has for future growth. "That is why my department, through Tourism NI, recently launched a new golf strategy for Northern Ireland, which aims to grow the value of golf tourism to £50m a year by 2020. The importance of golf tourism lies in attracting high-spending visitors."

Golf tourism is a lucrative market to attract to Northern Ireland, which boasts some of Europe's finest courses. According to research every £1 spent on green fees in Northern Ireland is worth a further £4 to the local economy.

The worldwide attention that the country received will have future benefits for the tourism sector, which is seeking to grow to a £1 billion industry by 2020.

"Images of the stunning County Down coastline, with the majestic Mountains of Mourne as a dramatic backdrop, are being beamed right around the world as the international media spotlight focuses on this sell-out tournament," added Bell.