The huge amount of collaboration and teamwork behind Northern Ireland’s highly successful staging of The 148th Open at Royal Portrush in July was celebrated last Friday with Afternoon ‘Tee’ at Titanic Belfast.
The Afternoon ‘Tee’ event was organised by Tourism NI to thank the army of volunteers and delivery partners whose work contributed to the golf showcase surpassing all expectations.
The hosting of one of the world’s major sporting events has been widely praised as a watershed moment for Northern Ireland both in terms of staging the Championship and in promoting the destination on the world stage.
A record-breaking 237,750 people flocked to Royal Portrush from 74 different countries, becoming the best attended Championship to be staged outside of St Andrews, which set the all-time high of 239,000 in 2000.
As well as contributing an anticipated £80m to the local economy, The Open promoted the best of Northern Ireland to more than 600 million households around the world, with more than 2,000 international media and 80 golf operators in attendance.
The staging of golf’s original championship involved years of planning by staff across government departments, divisions and agencies. A huge team of volunteers, marshals, the PSNI, Translink, Roads Service, emergency services, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Royal Portrush and accommodation providers were also involved.
Speaking at the event, Head of the NI Civil Service, David Sterling, said: “The delivery of The Open was a superb partnership effort involving key decisions taken by the Northern Ireland Executive and excellent teamwork across government departments and agencies, as well as local government, stakeholders and many staff and volunteers.
“The 148th Open was a phenomenal success. It showcased Northern Ireland on a global stage and highlighted our ability to deliver world class events. The tournament was a fantastic endorsement of NI as a compelling place to visit, invest and do business and I offer my thanks to all those who played a part in making it happen.”
Tourism NI Chief Executive, John McGrillen, commented: “Most people have been impressed and inspired by the incredible success of The 148th Open and are deeply appreciative of what everyone has done in organising and delivering the Championship. Feedback from the event both on and off the course has been exceptionally positive.”
He added: “It couldn’t have gone any better, but it couldn’t have happened without the teamwork and collaboration of a great many people. We are very grateful for the input and effort of each and every volunteer, staff member and stakeholder. Because of their contributions the world is talking about the giant welcome we gave, Northern Irish golf, Royal Portrush, the Causeway Coast and Northern Ireland like never before.
“It was a huge achievement to secure The Open, but then to plan and follow through on delivery so spectacularly has been a triumph for Northern Ireland. We have enhanced our reputation as a hosting destination of choice, and as a result I am hopeful that The Open will be back on our shores in the future.”
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director -Championships at The R&A, said, “The Open’s historic return to Royal Portrush was a resounding success and we are extremely grateful to the government, public agencies and volunteers for their guidance and support in staging the biggest ever sporting event to be held in Northern Ireland.”