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26 May 2015

Capitalising on the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down

Tourism Ireland’s golf promotions are ‘hole in one’ for Northern Ireland tourism

The Irish Open golf championship returns to Northern Ireland this week, this time to Royal County Down; it takes place from Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 May.

Northern Ireland golfers have been taking the golf world by storm in recent years; in particular, Rory McIlroy's tremendous success (most recently at the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club) has certainly brought an increased focus on golf in Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland’s ‘Home of Champions’ golf campaigns have been capitalising on this huge international interest, reminding golfers everywhere about the fantastic golf courses where our champions honed and perfected their skills.

With a line-up that includes Rory himself as well as big names like Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Luke Donald, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, José Maria Olazábal, last year’s winner Mikko Illonen and, of course, Graeme McDowell, Pádraig Harrington, Shane Lowry, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, hundreds of millions of households worldwide* will be tuning into the Irish Open this week, on satellite and cable TV. Tourism Ireland has been undertaking an extensive programme of promotions since the beginning of the year, in key golf markets like GB, the United States, Germany and Sweden, to leverage this global publicity for Northern Ireland.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “This prestigious sporting event provides a fantastic platform to put Royal County Down and golf in Northern Ireland in the global spotlight once again, showcasing what we have to offer to a huge TV audience of hundreds of millions of households right around the world.

“Tourism Ireland has had an extensive programme of promotions under way since the beginning of 2015, highlighting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and our world-class golf and encouraging more golfers to consider a golfing holiday here. Golf is the world’s largest sports-related travel market and we are 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 our fantastic golf and our unique brand of hospitality plays a key role in attracting golfers.”

* The Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2012 was broadcast to 447 million households.


Notes To Editors

Tourism Ireland promotional activity
Tourism Ireland’s programme of activity to highlight the Irish Open at Royal County Down and Northern Ireland’s world-class golf has included:


  • website: Tourism Ireland is promoting the Irish Open and golf in Northern Ireland on its international website;
  • online competition: social media highlighted a competition to win tickets to the Irish Open and linked to the golf section on, this spring (50,000+ people from around the world entered the competition).
Great Britain
  • co-operative promotions: press and online advertising in conjunction with leading online golf tour operators, such as Your Golf Travel and, and with P&O Ferries;
  • golf events: the Irish Open was strongly promoted by Tourism Ireland at the Scottish Golf Show (27-31 March) and at the BMW PGA Golf Championship at Wentworth (21-24 May), with Lough Erne Resort joining Tourism Ireland in Wentworth;
  • email marketing: regular e-newsletters to the Tourism Ireland database of more than 10,000 golfers around Britain;
  • targeting influential golf media: Tourism Ireland’s media golf day, which took place at the West Sussex golf course of Goodwood, in March, was attended by some 26 leading British golf writers – representing major titles like The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Golf World and Golf Today. Influential golf journalists have also been invited by Tourism Ireland to come and sample our golf offering throughout 2015 e.g. a group of 11 GB golf writers, with a combined audience of more than 2 million readers, visited Northern Ireland this spring;
  • social media: social media is also being harnessed to promote the Irish Open; Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page in GB has more than 426,000 fans and messages have been posted regularly in the run-up to the Irish Open.

North America
  • TV and online advertising: Tourism Ireland launched a new golf TV campaign in the United States this spring, to coincide with the US Masters at Augusta – with new 60-second and 30-second ads airing to about 1.6 million golf enthusiasts on the hugely popular NBC Golf Channel, as well as on, promoting the Irish Open and golf vacations to Northern Ireland. To view the TV ad, click here. A digital ad campaign also ran on various golf websites, directing people to the golf pages on;

  • targeting influential golf media: the central theme of Tourism Ireland’s media event at the US Masters in Augusta was the Irish Open at Royal County Down. Influential American golf writers have been invited to visit, in advance of the Irish Open in May and following The Open at St Andrews in July. Top golf journalists covering the Irish Open include Tim Rosaforte (providing commentary for the Golf Channel, Golf World, Golf Digest, Insider Golf Channel/NBC) and Brian Wacker (covering the tournament for the;
  • email marketing: email marketing has been targeting approximately 500,000 golf fans on the database; and e-newsletters highlighting the Irish Open at Royal County Down have also been distributed to the Tourism Ireland database (approximately 350,000 subscribers) this spring;
  • social media: social media is also encouraging American golfers to come and attend the Irish Open and then stay on to play some of our great courses. Golf-related posts on Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page in the US (900,000+ fans) have resulted in strong engagement with fans and lots of ‘likes’;
  • golf events: the Irish Open has also been promoted by Tourism Ireland at a number of high profile golf events in the US this year – including the PGA Golf Merchandise show in Orlando (in January) and the PGA Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Texas (in May).
Mainland Europe
  • targeting influential golf media: key golf, travel and lifestyle writers from Germany, France, Italy and Spain have been invited by Tourism Ireland to visit. As well as playing some of our top golf courses, they will also have the chance to see some of our top tourism attractions. Our publicity activity in Germany has also included highlighting the Irish Open at media events in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart, as well as a news release to key golf and travel journalists. The Irish Open at Royal County Down was one of the featured themes at Tourism Ireland media events in Madrid and Stockholm, this spring;
  • advertising: in France, online ads are promoting the Irish Open on the website of the French Golf Federation and on the golf section of, during May. Articles highlighting golf in Northern Ireland appeared this spring in Sydsvenskan (biggest daily newspaper in southern Sweden), Neue Zürcher Zeitung (leading Swiss newspaper), Golf Revue (official magazine of the Austrian Golf Society) and on (popular golf website in Austria);
  • email marketing: email marketing targeted golf fans in Austria and Switzerland (in May), in Germany (in April) and in the Nordics and Italy (in March);
  • social media: social media has also been used in the Nordic Region (in particular mentioning last year’s Irish Open winner, Finnish golfer Mikko Illonen), Italy, Spain, France and Germany, to highlight the competition to win tickets to the Irish Open and golf in Northern Ireland.