THE Open golf tournament in Portrush generated a massive economic benefit of Northern Ireland worth the equivalent of more than £100 million, a report has revealed.
A post evaluation report prepared for Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council shows the figure has been calculated as £106 million – well up on the initial forecast of £80 million.
The report, which is due to be tabled at a council committee meeting next Wednesday, says: ‘The 148th Open Golf Championship was the largest event ever to take place on the island of Ireland. It had been 67 years since an Open Golf Championship had been staged at Royal Portrush.
‘The 148th Open, will be etched in the memories of those people who either live, work or were fortunate to be visiting the borough between the 14th to the 21st July 2019.
‘The Royal and Ancient (hereafter referred to as The R&A, the event owner) has been overwhelming positive about the event. It has been described by the R&A and the sports media as the most successful Open Golf Championship ever.
‘Why was the event such a success? There are many contributing factors, but throughout the evaluation exercise, the quality, depth and trust of the relationships between all agencies involved in planning and delivery of the event has been highlighted repeatedly.
‘The partner host agencies had a common goal to deliver a successful world class event and exceed the expectations of the R&A. Outside of the event, a further area of success was the atmosphere and activity throughout Portrush during the week of The Open. This epitomised the way the whole of Northern Ireland
embraced the Open.
‘The Council was committed to consulting and engaging with the community for 18 months prior to the event. This engagement, along with the dressing and animation programme helped create a sense of civic pride which then generated a celebration off the course throughout the week of the event.
‘The story continues with the delivery of the R&A’s Legacy Fund. £100k was distributed via grants to ten community groups and organisations within Portrush.
‘Council’s allocated budget to prepare for, dress the Borough, animate Portrush and support The Open was £350k. Whilst additional funding was gained from other sources, the final account for the Council’s allocated budget is £344k.
‘The forecast total economic benefit for Northern Ireland was, at least, £80m. The independent research now confirms a total economic benefit for NI of £106m.’
‘At the time the post event evaluation was conducted the independent event impact assessment had not been concluded. It was undertaken for the 148th Open Championship by the Sports Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University (SIRC) on behalf of the R&A, in partnership with Tourism NI.
‘It is now clear that the benefit has exceeded all stakeholder expectations.
‘The methodology deployed for this study is consistent with that used for previous Open Championships and used by Tourism Northern Ireland as part of the UK agreed event economic impact evaluation framework.
‘The assessment looks at the economic and media value directly attributable to The Open in Northern Ireland. The forecast total economic benefit for Northern Ireland was at least £80m.
‘The estimate included a total economic impact, new money, of £33.4m and a destination marketing benefit derived from global media coverage of circa £50m. The total economic impact for CC&G (Causeway Coast & Glens) was forecast as £17.5m.
‘The independent research now confirms a total economic benefit for NI of £45m and a destination marketing benefit of £61m. Giving a total economic benefit of £106m. The independently researched total economic impact for the CC&G council area is £26.2m.
‘The impact assessment does not include the wider benefits derived as a result of hosting the event in Northern Ireland e.g. golf tourism legacy.
‘Golf tourism is now worth over £42.6 million annually (Sports Marketing Surveys 2018), having increased by 58% since 2013. 39% of golf visitors in 2018 stated that the hosting of The Open in NI was a major influencer to choosing NI.
‘Whilst the full legacy value of the event is still to be collated, the current piece of work concludes that the benefit to Northern Ireland of hosting The 148th Open is in excess of £100 million.’
The report also referred to a Public Perception Survey.
Over 5,000 individual surveys were conducted during The Open, which also
* 95% of spectators were satisfied/very satisfied with their Open experience overall.
* 98% from CCG agreed The Open made them feel more positive about where they live.
* 90% from CCG agreed The Open brought the local community closer.
* 99.5% from somewhere in NI were proud that the country was hosting The 148th Open.
* 98% of NI residents felt the event enhanced NI’s event hosting reputation.
* 96% of visitors to NI for The Open had an enhanced image of the country as a place
* 83% of visitors to NI were more likely to visit again in next 2 years as a result of The
The report said the total attendance was 237,750 and included 87,200 ‘unique spectators’ which was a ‘record spectator attendance for any Open outside St Andrews’.
The report made reference to where the spectators came from.
* Northern Ireland 42.4%
* Rest of the UK 20.2%
* Outside NI 37.4%
The report adds: ‘The success of the 148th Open is a reflection of what can be achieved through collaborative working across public and private sectors, focusing on a shared and common goal.
‘The success of The Open is also a consequence of the additional initiatives and cross government backing undertaken by NI agencies, through extending marketing activity and wider infrastructure development, including the Regeneration of Portrush.
‘The success of The Open will benefit the Borough for years if not decades. The European Tour responsible for the Irish Open, is currently considering a return to Portstewart in 2021 and we eagerly await news of the return of The Open’.