The 2015 Open Championship in St Andrews delivered £140 million of economic benefit to Scotland – the largest amount ever achieved by a golf event in the United Kingdom or Ireland, according to an independent economic impact assessment.
The study, commissioned by the R&A, shows spending by visitors to Scotland for the tournament generated £88 million – nearly double the £47.5 million in visitor impact achieved in 2010 when the event was last held at the Old Course.
A further £52 million in marketing benefit was realised thanks to the exposure gained by St Andrews and Scotland being broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide, according to separate research carried out by Kantar Media Sport Intelligence.
The economic impact assessment, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre, estimates that Fife alone benefitted to the tune of around £52 million, and suggests there is a “St Andrew’s effect” that has seen visitor numbers to the Old Course exceed all previous years.
Other key findings from the study include:
- Total spectator admissions over the course of the championship (including practice days and Championship days) were 237,024, with 93,000 unique spectators.
- There were 26,400 spectators from overseas – 28 per cent of the total, compared to 20 per cent in 2010.
- More than three quarters of overseas spectators were attending the Open for the first time in 2015. The corresponding figures for the two previous events held at St Andrews in 2010 and 2005 were 65 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.
- More than two thirds of the total visitors and 80 per cent of visitors from the UK said they expect to return to Scotland within one year thanks to the positive experience they had.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We all know that golf and its origins are synonymous with Scotland but these excellent figures show that the connection between the game and its spiritual home is as strong and productive as ever.
“It is always a special homecoming for players and spectators alike when The Open returns to the Old Course – they have the opportunity to experience not only one of the finest courses in the world, but also take in such a stunning setting on the Fife coast.
“Hosting such events is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Scotland internationally as the perfect stage for events as well as generating spend for local businesses, restaurants and hotels, and the wider Scottish economy.”
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “The R&A brings The Open to Scotland more often than to any other part of the United Kingdom and we are delighted that a long association with VisitScotland produces measurable and sustained benefits for the Scottish economy. For the millions who watched on television and the many thousands who attended in St Andrews, the 144TH Open was a wonderful celebration of golf. The Open is one of the world’s greatest sporting events and we look forward to staging another successful Championship in Scotland this year when The Open returns to Royal Troon.”
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Staging the world’s biggest sporting events is a key strand of Scotland’s national events strategy and as these figures show, they don’t come any bigger than The Open. To have such a huge increase in the number of international visitors attending The Open in the Home of Golf is an outstanding achievement and shows the huge worldwide appeal of Scotland and St Andrews as a golf destination.
“Golf is a critical part of the visitor economy and the ripple effect of event tourism is felt in shops, hotels, and a wide range of businesses across Scotland. It is more than a holiday experience or attendance at an event – it creates jobs, sustains communities and provides an international shop window for Scotland.
“We are very proud of our relationship with The R&A and congratulate them on these outstanding figures. We look forward to continuing to entice many more international visitors to The Open and Scotland this year and in the future.”