| 6.4°C Dublin

Fans to pay more for Irish Open tickets as exchange rates bite

GOLF fans travelling from the Republic to the Irish Open in Co Antrim this summer will pay more for tickets due to the exchange rate.

While official face value prices advertised last night are exactly the same as for the Killarney tournament last year, fans here will end up spending more.

Adult one-day tickets for the Royal Portrush course will cost €30 (Stg£25) while a season ticket for the full June-July event will cost €73 (£60).

Those prices compare to €25 and €60 respectively for the event last summer.

However, despite the slight cost increases on account of currency exchange, businesses in Northern Ireland seem unlikely to jack up prices to take advantage of the prestigious event.

Three and four star hotels in the immediate area are averaging between £100 (€121) and £200 (€240) per night for two, bed and breakfast. But that's if you are lucky enough to get one.

"At this stage it would be fair to say that all of the hotels in the triangle area (Portrush, Coleraine and Portstewart) are either fully booked or nearing it," said Ann Donaghy, general manager of the local Ramada Hotel.

Rooms will be at high season rates but none seem likely to charge excessive prices.

"Certainly not from our perspective and I am not aware of anyone doing that because people are aware of the current economic climate," said Ms Donaghy.

"And it's a phenomenal opportunity for Portrush and Northern Ireland on the back of Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke.

The Open runs from June 28 to July 1. Thousands of fans are expected to stay outside Portrush and in Belfast from where the course can be reached in a little over an hour.

Hastings Hotels, which has also committed to freezing its prices, are charging between £70 and £105 (€85 and €127) per person for their four star hotels in Belfast.

"Our hotels have already experienced a substantial surge in calls from people wanting to book accommodation for the event from as far away as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the USA," said marketing director Julie Maguire.

Adrian Calvin, general manager of the Playhouse bar in Portrush -- which is likely to screen the event on its 22ft cinema screen -- said the only thing that might raise prices was the upcoming budget.

"I wouldn't do it personally; we have a lot of regulars and you have to look after them and it would be unfair," he said.

"How do you separate them (from visiting golf fans)?It would be pandemonium.''

Bars charge between £3.10 and £3.50 (€3.75 and €4.25) for a pint of beer, around £4.40 (€5.30) for a short with mixer and £3.70 (€4.50) for a glass of wine.

Irish Independent