Tourism chiefs say win tees up a windfall
IRISH tourism chiefs are hoping to cash in on the latest golfing victory by enticing people to enjoy the greens of Ireland.
The boy wonder of the trio of golfing greats -- Rory McIlroy, from Holywood, Co Down -- will star in a €2.2m golf tourism campaign on the back of his historic US Open win at Congressional four-weeks ago.
Around 34,000 articles featured in more than 100 different countries in the nine days after his astounding victory at just 22-years of age.
Sports Minister Leo Varadkar last night said Ireland had "cemented" its reputation as the home of great golfers and great golf courses.
"This golf tourism campaign is the ideal way to build on that in the run-up to the Irish Open," he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was hopeful the run of success could lead to the Irish Open, which takes place in Killarney, Co Kerry, this summer, securing a major long-term sponsor to showcase the country.
Tourism chiefs were last night banking on a new bounty of articles highlighting the testing courses of Ireland that also helped form the winning game of the Northern Ireland-based Darren Clarke, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, to win the British Open on his 20th attempt.
Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland chief executive, said golf was the world's largest sports-related travel market.
It is currently estimated Ireland attracts around 150,000 golfers from the US, Britain and a growing European market each year, which is worth around €110m to the economy.
In the aftermath of Clarke's win it is expected that his earning power will rocket as more sponsors cash in on the story of the golfer's determination to fulfil his childhood dream.
The Dungannon golfer started the week ranked No 111th in the Official World Golf Ranking after failing to have a top 10 finish in a major in the past decade.