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'Big Potential' For Northern Ireland Golf Tourism

The market for golf tourism in Northern Ireland has significant potential that is yet to be realised, Northern Ireland's tourism minister has claimed.

Nigel Dodds said that the golf tourism market can be a highly lucrative one for countries that take advantage of the worldwide interest in taking part in the sport, BBC News reports.

Mr Dodds made his comments at the Walker Cup in County Down over the weekend, a major event in the amateur golf calendar that was seen as a useful showcase of the area's potential to cater for golfers.

"Northern Ireland needs to realise the full potential of golf tourism by encouraging some of the 60 million golfers worldwide to holiday here," he said.

"Statistics have shown that every £1 spent by a golfer is worth £15 to the local economy and because golfers care less about the weather than other travellers there is limitless potential to increase the golf tourism market."

Tom McGrath, chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, also commented on the expansion of the sector, pointing out that the number of golf visits to Northern Ireland rose by 58 per cent between 2003 and 2006.