The 148th Open at Royal Portrush generated more than £100 million (€119 million) of economic benefit for Northern Ireland, according to an independent study commissioned by The R&A and figures released to Sport for Business by Tourism Northern Ireland.
The Open, which returned to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years delivered a total economic impact, specifically attributed as new money entering the economy, of £45 million (€54 million) according to the study by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC).
Northern Ireland also gained £37.3 million (€44 million) in destination marketing benefit from over 5,400 hours of global television coverage.
The figures relate to the week of The Open and do not include the additional economic benefit accrued in the years following the Championship.
An additional £23.7 (€28 million) million has been identified by Tourism Northern Ireland in Advertising Equivalent Value for Northern Ireland Golf Tourism monitored in other media coverage across the island of Ireland and internationally.
The SIRC study – which was commissioned by golf’s governing body The R&A and supported by Tourism Northern Ireland and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council – also concluded that the Causeway Coast council area alone received a £26.21 million (€31.1 million) injection of new money from The Open.
The 148th Open attracted 237,750 fans, an attendance record for a Championship staged outside of St Andrews.
Over half of the spectators who attended The Open (57.6%) travelled from outside Northern Ireland including visitors from elsewhere in the UK (20.2%), from the Republic of Ireland (18.2%) and from overseas, the United States (11.1%), Canada (2.3%) and Australia (2.1%).
Some 83% of visitors told researchers they were more likely to visit Causeway Coast and Glens and Northern Ireland in the next two years as a result of their attendance at The Open.
“The 148th Open at Royal Portrush made history as the largest sporting event ever to be held in Northern Ireland and generated a substantial economic benefit,” said Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A.
“The return of the Championship to Royal Portrush was eagerly anticipated and we enjoyed a hugely memorable week where we welcomed tens of thousands of spectators to an outstanding championship venue to witness Shane Lowry lifting the Claret Jug.”
“The 148th Open at Royal Portrush was a groundbreaking event for tourism in Northern Ireland and its success further demonstrates Northern Ireland’s ability to seamlessly deliver world-class events which have a very positive impact on the local economy,” added John McGrillen, Chief Executive Tourism NI.
“Behind the scenes, a huge partnership effort across Government, Causeway Coast and Glens Council, PSNI, Translink and Tourism NI delivered an unforgettable week for players and spectators alike.”
“I am very proud of the role Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council played in The 148th Open, and these figures confirm its hugely significant impact on our economy,” said David Jackson, Chief Executive of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
“Visitors to The Open were able to enjoy the unrivalled beauty of the Causeway Coast and the warm hospitality which our destination is renowned for.”
“Research has shown that the positive effects of hosting The Open will be felt for many years and I have no doubt the Causeway Coast and Glens will continue to capitalise on its experience as a world-class host of The Open.”
A key aim of The R&A is to attract a younger audience to the Championship, and more than 30,000 spectators under the age of 25 attended this year, including 21,000 children under the age of 16 who attend free of charge thanks to the long-running Kids Go Free initiative.
The 149th Open will take place at Royal St George’s from 12-19 July 2020.
Image credit: eir sport, twitter