2015 British Open gave record €183 million boost to Scottish economy
Royal Portrush edition of the tournament in 2019 could provide similar revenue
Royal Portrush will stage the 148th British Open in 2019. Photograph: Getty
The British Open championship gave Scotland a £140 million (€183m) economic boost last year, new research has revealed, a record amount for a golfing tournament in the UK and Ireland.
St Andrews, which is known around the world as the “home of golf”, hosted the 144th Open in July, with American Zach Johnson winning the famous Claret Jug trophy.
And with the tournament set to return to Royal Portrush in 2019, after the course was placed back on the active Open rota in 2014, the figures from last year’s event suggest the local economy could be in for a boost when the competition takes place in County Antrim.
Spectator admissions topped more than 237,000 over the course of the most recent event at St Andrews, with 93,000 sports fans flocking to the Fife town for the event, including 26,400 from overseas.
A study, commissioned by tournament organisers the R&A, showed spending by visitors to Scotland for the tournament generated £88 million (€115m), almost twice the total of £47.5 million (€62.3 m) that was raised the last time the Open was at the Old Course in 2010.
Separate research by Kantar Media Sport Intelligence suggested the event, which was broadcast to more than 500 million homes worldwide, generated a further £52 million (€62.8m) in marketing benefit .
The economic impact assessment, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University’s sport industry research centre, estimated the economic benefit to the Fife area alone was about £52 million (€62.8m).
The 2019 tournament will be just the second to be held in Northern Ireland after Royal Portrush staged it in 1951, and will provide a golden opportunity for the local economy to benefit from the British Open’s now huge commercial power.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We all know that golf and its origins are synonymous with Scotland but these excellent figures show that the connection between the game and its spiritual home is as strong and productive as ever.
“It is always a special homecoming for players and spectators alike when The Open returns to the Old Course — they have the opportunity to experience not only one of the finest courses in the world, but also take in such a stunning setting on the Fife coast.
“Hosting such events is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Scotland internationally as the perfect stage for events as well as generating spend for local businesses, restaurants and hotels, and the wider Scottish economy.”
The Open is golf’s oldest major championship, with the event dating back to 1860. For the first time since 1988, play at the tournament was extended for an extra day, due to poor weather conditions.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “The R&A brings The Open to Scotland more often than to any other part of the United Kingdom and we are delighted that a long association with VisitScotland produces measurable and sustained benefits for the Scottish economy.
“The Open is one of the world’s greatest sporting events and we look forward to staging another successful championship in Scotland this year when The Open returns to Royal Troon.”