Tourism Ireland Tees Off £1.8 Million Golf Tourism Campaign to Capitalise on Darren Clarke’s ‘Open’ Victory

25 Jul 2011

Tourism Ireland is rolling out a ‘Major’ golf tourism campaign, worth £1.8 million, to capitalise on Darren Clarke’s great British Open victory at Royal St George’s and previous wins by Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in the US Open championship. 

The ‘Home of Champions’ campaign is designed to capitalise on the huge international media interest in Darren’s success.  Over 34,000 articles appeared in more than 100 countries in the aftermath of Rory McIlroy’s US Open win. 

Tourism Ireland is stepping up its promotional programme to maximise the benefits for Northern Ireland from these fantastic achievements.  Activity includes the following highlights:

• ‘Home of Champions’ is the headline for the new ad campaigns in Great Britain and the US this summer.  In the US, the ads are appearing on TV (on the popular Golf Channel) and online (on and elsewhere) and will be seen over 200 times around coverage of top tournaments like the Solheim Cup and popular American programmes like ‘Big Break’, ‘Feherty Show’, ‘Morning Drive’ and ‘Golf Now Ireland’.
• 365,000 Americans are also seeing ads and features on golf in Northern Ireland in Golfweek and Golf World magazines and in the Irish Echo and Irish Voice newspapers.
• In Britain, new ‘Home of Champions’ ads will run in key golf, business and financial publications, driving potential British golf holidaymakers to the golf offers section of the website.
• A further 250,000 golf enthusiasts worldwide are hearing about the Irish Open in Killarney later this week – through the media, travel trade and social media – with a competition to win a trip to see Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Pádraig Harrington in action there. 
• Influential golf and lifestyle journalists from around the world are being invited to come and sample our world-class golf product for themselves.  News releases have issued to media contacts across the US and other markets and the magic footage of the victories by Darren and Rory will be included in future golf TV programmes planned by Tourism Ireland, in the US and elsewhere.
• A co-operative campaign with bmi this summer – which allows golfers to carry their clubs for free on all bmi flights from London Heathrow to George Best Belfast City Airport – is being highlighted by Tourism Ireland through advertising and with leading GB golf tour operators.
• Social media is also helping to spread the word in our golf markets, with posts celebrating the British and US Open successes on Tourism Ireland’s US Facebook page (almost 130,000 fans) generating hundreds of ‘likes’ for Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke and lots of positive comments in the 24-hour period after their wins.
• The recent victories by Darren and Rory and strong golf messages feature on Tourism Ireland’s suite of websites which attracts up to 12 million unique visitors a year.  Tourism Ireland has also sent e-newsletters to its global database of golf fans with special offers and golf packages from the industry here.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: "The success of Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell has led many commentators to label Northern Ireland the 'golfing capital of the world'.  The fact that we can now boast three Major winning golfers in 13 months gives us an unprecedented opportunity to show the rest of the world what makes Northern Ireland's golf offering so special.

"There has never been a better time to take steps to secure a major professional golf tournament for Northern Ireland, which is why I have pledged my Department's support for Royal Portrush Golf Club's efforts to secure such an event.  During interviews that were broadcast all over the world, Darren Clarke talked about how playing at Royal Portrush had been the perfect preparation for links golf at the very top level – and he is right.

"We are, as Tourism Ireland's new marketing campaign says, the 'Home of Champions' and this campaign, together with the prospect of a major golf tournament at Royal Portrush, will be a tremendous boost in our continuing efforts to showcase our golf tourism offering on the international stage."

Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland chief executive, said: “Darren Clarke’s victory at the British Open, coming on top of wins by Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell at the US Open, has placed golf in Northern Ireland in the global spotlight and represents a huge opportunity.  Tourism Ireland is focused on growing the number of golf tourists to Northern Ireland in 2011 and beyond, and building on the tremendous positive publicity surrounding these extraordinary wins.

“Golf is the world’s largest sports-related travel market and Tourism Ireland is working hard to drive home the message that a golfing holiday in Northern Ireland is about much more than a round of 18 holes – the combination of Northern Ireland’s world-class golf product and unique brand of hospitality plays a key role in attracting golfers to come here.  Darren, Rory and Graeme are superb ambassadors for the game and for Northern Ireland.”

Tourism Ireland is also building on an already busy golf promotional programme for 2011, designed to boost golf visitors from overseas.  Programme highlights this year include the following:

• Across the world, Tourism Ireland and golf tourism partners are promoting prominently at all the major golfing events.  In Britain, events include the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, Golf Live in London, the Ricoh British Women’s Open at Carnoustie and The Open at Royal St George’s.  In the US, golf promotions include the Masters in Augusta, the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando (where last year’s US Open winner Graeme McDowell dropped by the stand), the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California, the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey and the upcoming PGA Barclays tournament.
• Tourism Ireland is also working closely with specialist golf tour operators such as and Your Golf Travel and with the English Women’s Golf Association.
• 83 million households across the US are set to see the best of our golf when the American TV series Big Break airs on the Golf Channel later this year.  This very positive exposure, which will be valued at over $12 million in media exposure, is thanks to Tourism Ireland’s advertising partnership with the Golf Channel, and NBC Sports. 
• In Germany, Tourism Ireland is partnering with the German PGA; promotions include a presence at the recent Ladies German Open, advertising on top golf websites like and co-operative marketing with key golf tour operators.
• In Sweden, where there are about 650,000 registered golfers, events include the Nordea Masters which takes place in Stockholm.  Tourism Ireland is also working with the Swedish Ladies’ Golf Association, the Swedish PGA and with accredited Swedish golf tour operators to bring golfers here for the Solheim Cup and to experience the island’s great golf.
• The Solheim Cup, which takes place 23rd – 25th September at Killeen Castle in Co Meath, features extensively in Tourism Ireland’s media, travel trade and consumer promotions around the world and the organisation is working closely with women’s golf associations in many key markets.


For further media information, please contact:
Clair Balmer, Tourism Ireland
Tel: 07766 527719

Notes to Editors:
• The golf market is very important for tourism, particularly from the US and Britain but also, increasingly, from the European markets. 
• High profile achievements such as the historic wins by Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, the announcement of North & West Coast Links as ‘European Golf Destination of the Year’, are all being used as ‘hooks’ to draw attention to our world-class golf experience and to grow visitor numbers. 
• Positive media coverage has brought the story of our great golf to millions of people in the US and around the world; in the extensive coverage to date, there have been many references to Northern Ireland and the recent ‘greats’ Northern Ireland has produced.  For example, in an interview on the Golf Channel in the US, Rory McIlroy said recently that "Northern Ireland is the best place on earth". 
• Sample quotes in the US media have included:  “Northern Ireland has an outsize presence in golf’”– New York Times





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