Minister hails success of Irish Open in Ballymena as John Catlin lifts the trophy
Northern Ireland has shown the world it can deliver a world class sporting event in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
That was the message today from Economy Minister Diane Dodds as she attended the final day’s play at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Co Antrim.
The Minister - who watched on as winner John Catlin from the United States lifted the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open trophy - said: “This year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open took place in the face of significant challenges and was organised in a fraction of the time compared to previous years. It has clearly been a remarkable success which has put Northern Ireland golf back into the global spotlight and provided a timely boost to our local economy.
“It has been a big boost to morale to have top class golf return and the opportunity to showcase our world-class golf courses, with broadcast coverage reaching hundreds of millions households worldwide. I want to praise the organisers for staging such a memorable tournament and showing the golfing world what Northern Ireland has to offer.”
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open was originally due to be held in Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny but with changing quarantine restrictions for travellers into the Republic, the European Tour made the decision to move the tournament to Northern Ireland where it was subject to guidelines similar to those which apply to the ‘UK Swing’ series of tournaments which took place in England and Wales, including being played behind closed doors.
Tourism NI worked closely with the European Tour on logistics and marketing for the event and Galgorm Castle Golf Club’s increased safety measures for guests and team members to ensure stringent protocols were in place across the week.
Chief Executive of Tourism NI John McGrillen said: “Major events such as this are crucial to building our tourism economy and it has never been more important to shore up support and confidence so that, when our visitors return in bigger numbers, there continues to be a wide choice of activities and experiences for them.
“As our hospitality and tourism sectors seek to recover over the next year, this event will play an important role in protecting our tourism brand. While it was unfortunately necessary for spectators to miss out in 2020, they were very much there in spirit and we look forward to welcoming many of them to Northern Ireland when the time is right”.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “Congratulations to our winner, John Catlin, today and to all those who played their part, both on the course and behind the scenes, in delivering what has been an exceptional Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, in Mid and East Antrim. Our tourism and hospitality sector is crucial to the Northern Ireland economy, and the showcasing of our area – including the stunning Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort host venue - to a global audience is invaluable as we continue our economic recovery.”
Simon Alliss, the European Tour’s Championship Director of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Dubai Duty Free and Tourism Northern Ireland, along with hosts Galgorm Castle and all of our partners and stakeholders, all of whom have worked together closely to help make this another successful edition of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.”