The Economic Impact of Golf in Northern Ireland

Investigation – What We Do

In 2013 Tourism Northern Ireland wished to monitor and learn how to increase the economic impact of Golf Tourism to Northern Ireland. Having operated a similar research programme with visit Wales in the decade around the 2010 Ryder Cup, Sports Marketing Surveys was asked to operate the research and insights programme. The objective was to discover, track and increase the number of golf visitors to Northern Ireland from around the world, and beyond that, to understand their spending habits on and off the golf course. The monitor also includes assessment of the impact of Northern Irish golfers playing as non-members.

Insight – How We Do It
Using its tourism monitoring methodology, Sports Marketing Surveys tracked visitors at a range of venues across the country. The research was designed to fairly track players at courses of all types, including parkland and links, and of different levels of prestige and price. Rounds played and visitor origin data is provided by clubs and combined with face to face interviews with golf visitors themselves, during their trip. The face to face element takes place throughout the main golfing season with the cooperation of participating clubs.

Action – How Our Client Benefits
The project provides a comprehensive understanding of the number of golf visitors coming to Northern Ireland, and a detailed analysis of their playing, staying and spending habits when in the country. With the research, Tourism Northern Ireland has been able to build a strong case for ongoing investment in professional and amateur golf. Better understanding of the market at both national and club level has also seen steady increases in both the number of golfing visitors and their overall spend.

The results are put into the public domain for the benefit of all, and are accepted by stakeholders as a trustworthy, independent analysis of the many benefits that golf brings to the country. In 2018, golf tourism was estimated to benefit the nation’s economy to the tune of 42.6m per year.

The monitoring period has coincided with a golden age of golf for Northern Ireland. Most notably, in 2019, the Open Championship returned to one of the country’s finest links, Royal Portrush, after an absence of 68 years.

To enhance this success, Sports Marketing Surveys has also been appointed as a consultant to Tourism Northern Ireland on the design and implementation of its wider golf strategy, leading to recommendations and insights that are expected to see golf visits and spend in the country continue to rise further in the years to come.

With the research, Tourism Northern Ireland has been able to build a strong case for ongoing investment in professional and amateur golf.

In 2018, Golf tourism was estimated to benefit the nation’s economy by £42.6m per year”

"Sports Marketing Surveys' monitoring has played an important role in supporting our strategy to develop golf and golf tourism in Northern Ireland. Since the beginning of our partnership in 2013, they have been responsive, proactive and diligent in their work. Their results are trustworthy and robust and support our discussions with stakeholders at all levels, enabling us to increase both investment and returns."
Leanne Rice
Golf Marketing Manager