With The Open making a historic return to Northern Ireland, businesses across Mid and East Antrim are already at the tee as sporting fans from around the world prepare to swing into Northern Ireland.
A field of 156 players will compete for the famous Claret Jug this July – and local hotels including Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort and Ballygally Castle Hotel are already fully booked ahead of the prestigious tournament.
Hospitality providers, retailers and traders throughout Mid and East Antrim are set to benefit from the huge tourism drive, with visitors staying, visiting and enjoying the borough’s attractions.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Maureen Morrow, said: “This event will offer a welcome boost across Mid and East Antrim as over 190,000 spectators and visitors from around the world enjoy Northern Ireland’s legendary hospitality and I’m delighted our hotels and guest houses are set to be packed out throughout the tournament.
“The Open is rightly regarded as one of the world’s top sporting events and the staging of such a prestigious competition in Northern Ireland is incredible for our economy and promoting our blossoming tourism market. I have no doubt The Open will create a superb legacy and provide a real boost for Northern Ireland and Mid and East Antrim.”
Colin Johnston, Managing Director of Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, said: “We are delighted to see the historic return of The Open to Northern Ireland after nearly 70 years.
“This will shine a spotlight on Northern Ireland, placing us on a global stage and leaving a lasting legacy.
“We look forward to welcoming these International guests to the Borough and have many more events to look forward to this year, such as the ISPS Handa World Invitational in August.
“These events help to profile the fantastic tourism product that we offer, showcasing the Borough to an international audience.”
Norman McBride, General Manager of Ballygally Castle, said: “We’re really looking forward to The Open and welcoming almost 200, 000 visitors to the stunning Causeway Coastal Route which is shaped by sea and stone.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the fabulous array of local experiential, accommodation and food providers who will all have their products and services promoted on the world stage.”
Councillor Greg McKeen, Chair of Borough Growth, added: “With so many international guests coming to the Borough we want to keep that momentum up and encourage them to return.
“We have so much to offer from our tourism, hospitality and retail industries. We have the Gobbins in Islandmagee and Carrickfergus Castle for visitors to explore with the presidential homesteads of Andrew Jackson Cottage and Arthur Cottage also open to the public.
“We also have a number of award winning marinas across the borough with over 100 parks also for people to enjoy.
“With the estimated economic benefit from hosting this event around £80 million to Northern Ireland, we have an opportunity to showcase the Borough on a global scale.”
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have also teamed up with Tourism NI to transform roundabouts on key routes so visitors staying in the borough can find their way to Portrush. The 148th Open at Royal Portrush will run from July 18-21.