Fáilte Ireland uses Irish Open to tee-up golf tourism market

Agency says golf tourism was driver of industry recovery after last recession and is seeing strong business this year

Fáilte Ireland was highlighting the importance to Ireland of golf tourism as the 2022 Horizon Irish Open got under way on Thursday.

It noted that golf tourism was one of the first sectors to rebound after the last recession. More than 221,000 visitors to the country in 2019 cited golf as the primary purpose for their travel, the tourism agency said, spending €300 million in the local economy.

The agency is hosting 40 Irish golf businesses at the event this week to meet golf fans and encourage them to consider taking a golf holiday in Ireland. According to its research, a golf visitor typically spends three times more than the average leisure tourist with most of the spend going directly into non-golf spending in local economies.

The bulk of golf visitors to Ireland come from North America (47 per cent in 2019). Mainland Europe follows with 30 per cent and a further 19 per cent coming over from the United Kingdom.

“We believe that golf tourism will play an important part in supporting tourism to rebound quickly,” said Paul Mockler, head of commercial development at Fáilte Ireland. “As such, golf is seen as a fundamental tool in driving Ireland’s tourism industry back to 2019 performance levels and beyond, in as short a time as possible.”

He said the golf tourism pipeline was very strong this year on the back of pent-up demand following the Covid-19 induced restrictions on travel. That, he said, looks set to continue into 2023.

“Vitally, the spread of golf courses around the country offers a significant opportunity to drive tourism growth to all regions of Ireland and supports an extension of the tourism season.”

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times