Irish Open set to drive major tourism benefits

Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open
Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open

Millions of households around the world will be tuned into spectacular images of Portstewart this week as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open tees off.

With extended and enhanced TV coverage over previous years, the tournament is providing a major opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as a golf destination.

This is just one of the key benefits that will flow from the hosting of the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, according to John McGrillen, Tourism NI Chief Executive.

Speaking ahead of the start of the event, he said: “With a top-class field, our own Rory McIlroy defending his title and a ‘fifth major’ feel to the tournament on and off the course, we eagerly anticipate a week of outstanding golf, increased visitors and a sell-out crowd in Portstewart.

“Northern Ireland is the home of world-class courses, world-class players, and world-class golf events, and that is the message we will be showcasing all through this week and beyond.”

Over 90,000 visitors are expected at Portstewart and the surrounding areas of the Causeway Coastal Route and it is anticipated that £2 million of positive PR will be generated for Northern Ireland, helping to raise the destination’s profile to golfers around the world.

Actor Jamie Dornan played in Pro-Am

Actor Jamie Dornan played in Pro-Am

Tourism NI is one the key sponsors and is also providing significant marketing and event support to the tournament. Along with its partners it will be working hard to deliver a memorable tournament for locals, visitors and players.

John McGrillen added: “Our support for the Irish Open is an investment in our tourism industry that will pay dividends for years to come. The benefits include priceless TV exposure, visitors from across Ireland and further afield, a vital contribution to the economy and a wonderful lead in to our delivery of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019.

“The Irish Open will deliver high-spending visitors to Northern Ireland this year, but we also hope that it will help drive an increase in out of state visitors taking part in golfing activities going forward. Revenue from golf visitors has risen to £35.6 million per year, is making a significant impact on recent positive tourism performance and will continue to help us to achieve our ambitious target of making tourism a £1 billion industry by 2020.”

A star-studded Irish Open pro-am tournament is underway today, Wednesday 5 July, with the main event running from 6 – 9 July.

The two previous editions of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Northern Ireland, in 2012 at Royal Portrush and 2015 at Royal County Down, were both sell-outs.