Northern Ireland is increasingly becoming known as a world class golf destination. Events such as the Irish Open 2015 and the success of local golfers like Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have helped to highlight Northern Ireland as a golfing destination. It was recently announced that The Open Championship, the world’s biggest golf tournament, will take place in Northern Ireland in 2019.
Northern Ireland’s golfing appeal lies in its diversity and the quality of its courses.
The annual golf tourism market was valued at £35.6m in 2016. Tourism NI are working to increase this through the Golf Tourism Strategy. The strategy aims to:
- grow the value of the golf tourism market to £50m by 2020
- develop the capability and capacity of clubs to host visitors
- enhance the reputation and awareness of Northern Ireland for golf tourism
- build Northern Ireland’s capacity to host golf events
- support industry leadership and collaboration in the sector
There are opportunities for golf courses to attract more overseas visitors and host major events. Other businesses such as those in the hospitality and transport sectors can also benefit. For every £1 spent by visitors on green fees, a further £4 is spent elsewhere.
Some of the opportunities for golf clubs include:
- developing clusters that allow visitors to play several different courses during their trip
- creating partnerships with hotels and restaurants to offer package breaks
- promoting offers on tourism websites and through online tour operators
The opportunities for other businesses include:
- holding golf exhibitions, workshops and talks
- providing hospitality and transport during major golf events
- working with clubs to offer package deals to golf tourists
Northern Ireland’s positon as a leading golf destination can also help to increase the business travel market. This will create further business opportunities.