As the 2022 Horizon Irish Open gets underway today, Fáilte Ireland is using its sponsorship of the event to highlight the importance of golf tourism to rural and local economies as tourism looks to drive a sustained and sustainable recovery. The 2022 Horizon Irish Open returns to the prestigious Mount Juliet Estate, Kilkenny after a hugely successful hosting in 2021.
Following the last economic downturn, golf tourism was one of the first areas of tourism to rebound in Ireland, providing strong growth in visitor numbers and revenue right up until the Covid 19 pandemic hit. In 2019, Ireland welcomed over 221,000 visitors whose primary purpose of travel was a golf holiday, and they spent €300million in the local economy.
Fáilte Ireland is also hosting 40 Irish golf businesses from across the country in the Discover Ireland tent on-site who will directly engage with the golf enthusiasts attending the event and encourage them to consider taking a golf holiday in Ireland.
According to Fáilte Ireland research a golf visitor typically spends three times more than the average leisure tourist with most of the spend going directly into local economies on non-golf expenditures such as accommodation, transport and food and beverage. Ireland’s largest market is North America, with 47% of 2019 visitors arriving from the US and Canada. Mainland Europe follows with 30% of 2019 visitors and 19% arriving from the United Kingdom.
Speaking on the importance of golf tourism to Ireland, Head of Commercial Development at Fáilte Ireland, Paul Mockler said:
“With Ireland’s world-class golf product, experienced Irish-based golf buyers and a motivated, capable industry, we believe that golf tourism will play an important part in supporting tourism to rebound quickly. 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. Due to pent-up demand from 2020 and 2021, our golf tourism pipeline is very strong for this year and that 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 – key focus areas of our work at Fáilte Ireland as we look to drive recovery.”
Brian O’Flynn, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland said:
“Hosting sporting events such as the Horizon 2022 Irish Open is hugely important for Irish tourism as it creates a legacy that will be a draw for visitors for years to come and gives us the opportunity to showcase our country and golfing product to an international audience.
Along with the return of in-person spectators this year, the event will be broadcast to over 300 million homes worldwide. Viewers will be given a taste of just how spectacular Mount Juliet Estate, Kilkenny and Ireland’s Ancient East are which will inspire future international leisure and golf trips.”