Bridgend tees up golf as tourist draw

Golf will be used as a hook to secure other major events and attract greater numbers of visitors as part of a new strategy by Bridgend County Borough Council.

Cabinet Members have approved a new ‘Visitor Events Strategy’, which outlines ambitious plans to further develop the county borough’s events programme.

With the ‘Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex’ being held at Royal Porthcawl this July, golf is being targeted as a key draw to entice tourists and elevate the seaside town’s reputation so that it is on a par globally with the sport’s other kingpins such as St Andrews in Scotland.

The Welsh Government has reached a £5m agreement for three Senior Open Championships to be played in Wales between 2014 and 2024, and Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed to contribute £50,000 towards the hosting of the first event in Porthcawl.

This year’s Senior Open is predicted to attract 34,000 spectators, of whom 25 per cent are expected to be from overseas, and with legendary Ryder Cup heroes such as Ian Woosnam, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Bernhard Langer all set to play, the event will also attract media coverage across the world and hours of live TV coverage in both the UK and USA.

Councillor David Sage, Cabinet Member for Tourism, said: “The Senior Open is a hugely significant tourism event for Bridgend County Borough and the council will be making every effort to ensure that it delivers maximum benefits for the area.

“The return on hosting major golf tournaments is substantial, bringing large sums into the local economy, and we are fully behind Royal Porthcawl’s bid to follow up a successful Senior Open by hopefully staging The Open Championship within the next ten years. That is the ultimate aim, and securing such a prestigious tournament would make Porthcawl synonymous with golf and establish the town’s future reputation across the world.

“In addition to the economic benefits that come with hosting large events, there are also plenty of potential additional benefits, such as enticing more local people and youngsters in particular, to improve their health and wellbeing by taking up the sport. We are fully behind this and will be working closely with events promoters and the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club to establish the venue as a front runner to host the Open in the near future.”

Tourism injects £282m into the local economy, supporting over 4,255 jobs, and the Visitor Events Strategy describes the steps the council will be taking over the next three years to identify events that have the most potential for growth, and how to support them accordingly.

Councillor Sage added: “Quality events strengthen the local economy, help to change the perception of the area, and improve civic pride among local residents too.

“Our vision is for Bridgend County Borough to be recognised as a successful and dynamic events destination and we need to play to our strengths, which is why we are targeting golf specifically, but we are also mindful of the potential in the outdoor music, sports and festivals sectors too so we will be trying to attract events of this nature whenever possible. However, it is clearly a competitive market, and a major event would need to stand out from the crowd to become established.”

The strategy also explains that, as the council needs to make budget savings, it will be moving away from developing and delivering so many events itself and will instead be looking to work in partnership with event organisers by offering funding, advice and marketing support. A strategic events fund of £60,000 will be established from the current tourism budget and event organisers will be able to apply for grant funding if their applications meet clear criteria.

The ‘Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex’ takes place at Royal Porthcawl on 24 – 27 July and tickets can be bought by calling the hotline on 0800 023 2557 or via www.senioropengolf.com.

Article source: http://www.newswales.co.uk/index.cfm?section=Sport&F=1&id=27050