With all eyes on Rory McIlroy this week as he prepares to defend his US Open title at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, a massive 10.5 million American golf fans will see TV ads featuring footage of Rory and golf in Northern Ireland when they tune in to watch the tournament on the popular Golf Channel.
The ads – part of Tourism Ireland’s extensive golf promotional programme this year – are running all this week on the Golf Channel, in the run-up to and during the US Open. An additional 3.6 million people will see ads for Northern Ireland golf online, on golfchannel.com. Coverage on the Golf Channel will also include an interview with Rory McIlroy, presented by Northern Ireland-born broadcaster David Feherty. And another Feherty programme will also be shown, featuring Graeme McDowell talking about the highs and lows of his career since winning the US Open in 2010.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “Northern Ireland may be a small country, but it’s a big player in the world of golf. Not only do we have world-class professional golfers in Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, but we also have two top-ranked golf courses, Royal Co Down and Royal Portrush.
“Our local golfers have certainly raised the profile of Northern Ireland on the global golf circuit and we are determined to exploit their success fully for the benefit of Northern Ireland.”
Tourism Ireland has a very busy programme of promotions under way right now, in key golf markets like GB, the US, Germany and Sweden, to highlight the Irish Open and the world-class golf on offer in Northern Ireland. Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “The global success of our golfing heroes Rory, Darren and Graeme, as well as the hosting of the Irish Open, has given us a wonderful platform to showcase golf in Northern Ireland. We are looking forward to a fantastic summer of golf and to maximising every opportunity to tell potential visitors around the globe about the superb golf on offer here in Northern Ireland. Our message is that Northern Ireland offers golfers the complete package – with top courses, stunning scenery and the warmest of welcomes.”
Earlier this month, Tourism Ireland invited legendary golf commentator Peter Alliss to Northern Ireland, to record footage at some of our iconic golf courses – including Royal Portrush, Royal Co Down, Holywood, Dungannon and Darren’s Clarke’s Golf Academy at Greenmount, Co Antrim. The independent production, fronted by Peter Alliss, will be distributed to TV networks in the US and GB over the coming weeks, in the run-up to and during the 2012 Irish Open.
In the all-important GB market, almost 10 million people have been reading all about the fantastic golf on offer in Northern Ireland over the past few months – through a series of ads and advertorials Tourism Ireland has placed in major newspapers like The Times, The Independent and The Herald (Scotland) and golf magazines such as Bunkered. Tourism Ireland has also been highlighting our golf and the much-anticipated Irish Open at recent tournaments and events like the BMW PGA Golf Championship at Wentworth and Golf Live in Kent.
Social media is also being harnessed to promote our golf. In the US, golf-related posts on Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page, which has over 225,000 fans, have resulted in strong engagement with fans. Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page in GB has over 120,000 fans and messages are being posted regularly in the run-up to the Irish Open, encouraging fans to enter a competition to win a trip to the tournament. The competition also features on the golf pages of discoverireland.com.
Golf tourism currently generates over £14 million per year for the local economy, with the average spend per golf visitor coming in at £300-£450, significantly higher than the average visitor spend.