Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has launched a strategy which aims to grow golf tourism to £50million a year by 2020.
With The Open set to come to Royal Portrush before the end of the decade, and the Irish Open back in the province this year and in 2017 the Minister is keen to reap the benefits.
Launching the new Tourism Northern Ireland Golf Strategy, Arlene Foster said: “The vision of the strategy is to grow the value of golf tourism to £50million per annum by 2020, and in doing so to remind golfers worldwide that Northern Ireland is where golf champions are born and play.
“As a sport, as a business and as a tourism asset, golf operates on a worldwide scale so there has never been a better time for Northern Ireland, the Home of Champions, to formulate a new strategy to tap into its potential.
“The continuing success of our golfers, the acknowledged quality of our courses and the widespread support for the game, exemplified by the unprecedented sell-out of the Irish Open in 2012, have combined to enhance Northern Ireland’s status as an exceptional golf destination.
“Our reputation for golfing excellence will be increased further with the hosting of the Irish Open by Royal County Down this year, along with its return again in 2017, and indeed the prospect of holding the world’s biggest golf tournament, The Open Championship, by the end of the decade.”
Golf tourism currently generates £33million per annum for the local economy. The importance of golf tourism lies in attracting high spending visitors and dispersing their spending power throughout the visitor economy, with research suggesting that for every £1 spent on green fees in Northern Ireland a further £4 is spent elsewhere.
The Minister added: “I am determined to see Northern Ireland tourism grow to become £1billion industry by 2020, and as golf is integral to achieving this objective, I see this strategy from Tourism NI as both timely and welcome.”
Extensive stakeholder engagement and consultations have yielded a fresh direction in what, until now, has been a limited strategic approach to golf tourism here.
It is expected that the new strategy will provide a cohesive rationale and call to action, address areas of weakness, promote the destination and capitalise on Northern Ireland’s visibility and success in golf to generate more real economic value.