With just days to go before the highly-anticipated Irish Open gets under way at Royal Portrush, international interest in the tournament is huge. According to Royal Portrush, an estimated 425 million households around the world are set to tune into the Irish Open – through satellite, cable and various golf channels, including 60 million viewers alone on Sky Sports. Journalists from around the world are arriving daily in Northern Ireland to attend the tournament, experience our wonderful golfing product and discover why such a small country can produce such world-class golfing talent.
Thirty top golf writers from Great Britain, the US, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Nordic region, the Middle East and India have been invited here this week by Tourism Ireland, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. In addition to attending the Irish Open, the journalists will have the opportunity to play golf, enjoy our magnificent scenery and visit some of our world-class visitor attractions, including Titanic Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway, and spend time at some ni2012 events including the Clipper Homecoming Maritime Festival on the banks of the Foyle. In co-operation with the European PGA, Tourism Ireland also arranged for six leading GB golf writers to attend the recent Irish Open media preview day and play golf at Royal Portrush.
Tourism Ireland has a very busy golf promotional programme in place this year to encourage more people to consider a golfing holiday here, which includes capitalising on the success of our major golf champions as ambassadors for Northern Ireland. Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “The Irish Open at Royal Portrush presents a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase Northern Ireland on the international stage. In addition to the extensive TV coverage of the Irish Open which will bring images of Portrush and Northern Ireland into the homes of hundreds of millions of people, the articles and broadcasts these journalists will produce will be read or seen by millions of golf fans – or potential holidaymakers – throughout the world.
“Over the past few months, we have arranged for leading travel and lifestyle media, tour operators and travel agents to come and play Royal Portrush and other golf courses, as well as experience some of the many other great things to do and see 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 Royal Co Down and Royal Portrush, as well as a number of other courses around the province; the resulting independent production, fronted by Alliss, has been distributed to TV networks in the US and GB for broadcast over the coming days in the run-up to the Irish Open. Tourism Ireland’s golf promotions in the US have included advertising on the hugely popular Golf Channel during the recent US Open in San Francisco; an estimated 10.5 million American golf fans saw these ads, featuring footage of our local golfing champions and golf in Northern Ireland.
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 golf and the Irish Open at recent tournaments and events like the BMW PGA Golf Championship at Wentworth and Golf Live in Kent.
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,