Golf’s oldest and most international championship made an historic return to Royal Portrush Golf Club after 68 years. One of the sporting world’s most hotly anticipated contests, The Open, stirred excitement and anticipation as spectators and golfers made their way from across the globe to Northern Ireland. According to Tourism NI’s figures, The Open attracted a record-breaking crowd of 237,750 people to Portrush from 18-21 July. A total of 156 golfers took to the course, including Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari and local golfing legends Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell. In the end, Irishman Shane Lowry emerged victorious and clinched the coveted Claret Jug.
Photo Credit: The Open
From the announcement of the host venue 4 years ago to the opening tee shot, it is safe to say the whole week was a success as a result of the dedication and collaboration between the tourism and hospitality sectors, event organisers, transport and emergency services and local councils. Record ticket sales at the fastest selling launch were an early indication of things to come, with many reporting The Open 2019 as the best yet!
The support we have received from the government, tourism sectors, the local council, members, and the R&A has been incredible.
Willma Erskine Secretary Manager at Royal Portrush
Source: Golf Club Managers’ Association
The Open gave Northern Ireland a chance to show an international audience what this vibrant and flourishing destination has to offer. For those few days, the eyes of the world were on Northern Ireland and everything positive about the world-class destination laid out for guests from across the globe to experience and enjoy amazing golf courses, visitor attractions, hotels, a rich heritage and award-winning food and drink. The economic impact of hosting this event has also been huge, with Invest NI estimating a figure of around £80m.
Watching visitors as they came in, the excitement there was on course and in the surrounding towns and cities nearby such as Belfast and Derry were phenomenal. Speaking with previous hosts, about 60% of those who come to visit The Open Championship expect to return within a year, which is exactly what we want to see, and this is a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland.
Lesley-Ann O'Donnell, The Tourism NI 148th Open Project Manager
Source: U105 Audio
Belfast is just a 75-minute journey from the Royal Portrush Golf Club and with an ever-changing cityscape and an exciting nightlife, it is clear to see why Belfast became the base for many golf fans who used The Open as an opportunity to visit our city and stay on after the tournament to experience one of Europe’s most unique cities. The Open boosted the city’s footfall with tourists taking up residence in some of Belfast’s most lavish five-star hotels to more budget friendly accommodation and everything in between.
ICC Belfast, together with Visit Belfast and Tourism Northern Ireland had the pleasure of hosting clients to join them in an unforgettable day at The Open, as well as having the opportunity to explore our incredible venue and city. This authentic and unforgettable experience will have a lasting and positive impact on our guests and we look forward to welcoming them back when Northern Ireland next plays host to The Open, if not before to host their next world-class event!