The hosting of The 148th Open at Royal Portrush made the last year a groundbreaking one for Northern Ireland’s tourism economy. The Open generated more than £100 million of economic benefit for Northern Ireland, according to an independent study commissioned by The R&A and figures released by Tourism Northern Ireland.
The Open, which returned to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years delivered a total economic impact, new money entering the economy, of £45 million according to the study by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC). Northern Ireland also gained £37.3 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 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 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 outwith 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.
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 attended free of charge thanks to the long-running Kids Go Free initiative.