The Open a major boon to Derry tourism sector

The arrival of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and the cream of world golf at Portrush has provided a boost to Derry’s tourism economy.

Friday, 19th July 2019, 8:00 pm
Updated Friday, 19th July 2019, 9:00 pm
USA's Tiger Woods on the practice green at Portrush. Niall Carson/PA Wire. TheOpen.com.
USA's Tiger Woods on the practice green at Portrush. Niall Carson/PA Wire. TheOpen.com.

Hotels are already close to full occupancy for the four days of The Open with late arrivals expected to test capacity further over the weekend.

Visit Derry Director, Odhran Dunne, said a lot of effort was expended promoting Ireland’s fourth city as ‘the hub’ for golf tourists travelling to the flagship event.

“For the days of The Open we are sitting at 93 per cent occupancy with 80 per cent of that golf-related. We’ve visitors from all over the world, particularly the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“The travelling distances from Derry for international golf tourists are nothing. We had that with the Irish Open in Ballyliffin, 40 minutes away, and for The Open, less than an hour away,” said the Derry tourism chief.

Dozens of private jets, meanwhile, have made City of Derry Airport their base for the week and scheduled services are fully booked.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome a large number of private and corporate aircraft to the airport for the 148th Open at Royal Portrush this week from UK, Europe and America. Commercial flights into the airport are also booked to full capacity with large numbers of passengers travelling through the airport for The Open,” said CoDA manager Charlene Shongo.

Mr. Dunne said one of Derry’s selling points was that it was a vibrant, friendly city or those who expected a strong social aspect to The Open.

“Golf is a social thing as well as the sport itself and we’ve been looking at the whole ‘19th hole’ experience. Derry has so many good bars, restaurants, café’s and it’s also competitive, really good value for money, and the golf tourist appreciates that.”