I was sent a press release today by the very nice people at Visit Scotland (see edited highlights below). It’s a fascinating read on two levels: first is the detail and the importance placed by Scotland on the Open Championship; and second, done right, this bodes well for Northern Ireland and Royal Portrush in 2019.
The attention-grabbing headline number is this: there was a Stg £110 million benefit to Scotland from the 145th Open atRoyal Troon last year, according to an independent study announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, today.
The Open, which attracted 173,000 spectators to the Ayrshire coastline, delivered an economic impact of more than £64 million according to the study compiled by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre.
|The iconic Postage Stamp (the 7th) at Royal Troon|
The research, which was commissioned by The R&A, VisitScotland and South Ayrshire Council, concluded that Ayrshire alone benefited from spending by event-specific visitors and on event infrastructure amounting to £23 million in economic impact.
Almost half of the spectators who attended The Open (49 per cent) travelled from outside Scotland, while two-thirds of Scots spectators came from outside Ayrshire. 62 per cent of non-Ayrshire residents indicated they would return to South Ayrshire for a break within 12 months.
The Open is the world’s oldest and most prestigious professional golf championship and is held in Scotland more than any other country, on average three out of every five years. The 2016 Championship was seen as something of a homecoming for The Open, having first been played at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860, just a few miles from Royal Troon.
|Golfers head down the 12th at Royal Troon|
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who attended the 2016 Championship, said:
“Hosting The Open is a chance to see one of the world’s most popular sports return to the country where it all started, so these are brilliant figures which highlight the huge economic benefit that bringing home such a prestigious championship has for Scotland.
“Troon is a fantastic course enjoyed by players and spectators alike, both for the quality and challenge of the course, and the remarkable scenery. However, it’s much more wide-ranging than that - it showcases Scotland’s ability to host world class events, it has benefits for local businesses and hotels - and it also inspires the next generation of players.
“We look forward to welcoming the world to Carnoustie in 2018 for the 147th Open Championship.” (The 2017 Open is at Royal Birkdale, outside Liverpool.)
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, added: “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and generates substantial economic benefit for the host country. We were delighted with the success of the Championship at Royal Troon which delivered tremendous entertainment for the tens of thousands of fans who came along to see the world’s top golfers competing. Henrik Stenson’s victory after such a gripping duel with Phil Mickelson was one of the finest performances in the long history of The Open.”
|Royal Troon's par three 17th, with clubhouse beyond|
Paul Bush, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “Scotland has a long and proud history of hosting The Open more than any other country and these figures illustrate the importance of the Championships to Scotland, not just in delivering economic impact and supporting jobs but in promoting Scotland as the Home of Golf and the perfect stage for major events to a global audience.
“The stunning pictures of the Ayrshire coastline that were beamed around the world from Royal Troon will have inspired many more visitors to Scotland. We look forward to welcoming The Open back to Carnoustie in 2018 and continuing our successful relationship with The R&A for many more years to come.”
The Open is golf’s oldest championship. Played since 1860 on iconic British and Irish links golf courses, it is the sport’s most international Major Championship with qualifying events on every continent.
Organised by The R&A, The Open delivers significant economic benefit to its host region, while the Championship’s commercial success supports the development of the game worldwide.
Ayrshire is known as “The Birthplace of The Open” with the first 12 Championships played at Prestwick Golf Club from 1860.
In 2019, let's hope that the relevant powers who are promoting, supporting and driving the Open at Royal Portrush can be this focused. It will deliver such benefits for the island of Ireland.
A couple of questions. The powers that be eventually pressed for the building of a hotel at Carnoustie, the one that is visible behind the 18th green. In my visits to Portrush, I haven't seen such a facility there or nearby that would likely be used by R&A officials and some players. Are you aware of any plans for such a hotel to be open by 2019?ReplyDelete
Also, with the issues the R&A has with Muirfield currently and may have with any Trump-owned facility, such as Turnberry, it appears possible that the R&A might need to expand the rota. Is there any likelihood that Northern Ireland could see Opens more frequently? And that other worthy facilities there that might see themselves as Open quality--like, let's say, Royal County Down with the Slieve Donard right next door--might make a bid to host future Opens?
Lee, one of the biggest issues facing Royal Portrush is the availability of accommodation. There are a couple of good hotels in Portrush and a few others scattered about but a lot of hope was pinned on a hotel being built next to the Giants Causeway, as part of a new golf resort. This failed a couple of years back so the issues with accommodation remain. I'm certainly not aware of any plans for a new hotel in Portrush.Delete
Regarding Muirfield/Trump, I think there is definitely an opportunity for another course to be added to the list. I've heard Royal Porthcawl and Royal Aberdeen mentioned. Royal County Down won't be on the list as it simply can't handle the volumes of spectators who attend The Open.