Tourism chiefs hoping for sell-out when Open comes to Portrush
The return of the Open Championship to Northern Ireland is expected to deliver the tournament's first ever sell-out, tourism chiefs have said.
Tourism Northern Ireland has predicted an £80 million windfall for the local economy when the golfing major comes to Royal Portrush next July - the first time it has been played in the region for almost 70 years.
As this year's Open teed off in Carnoustie in Scotland, the Northern Ireland tourist industry commenced its own one-year countdown to 2019.
More than 20% of the entire 190,000-ticket allocation for the Portrush showpiece was snapped up within 48 hours of going on sale earlier this month.
Tourism NI said the 2019 tournament would be operated on an all-ticket model and the organisation predicted it would be the "first ever Open Championship to sell out".
Susie Brown, corporate development director at Tourism NI, said: "The 148th Open will be the biggest sporting event ever to have been held in Northern Ireland and this week marks a significant countdown to what has already been years in the planning.
"Northern Ireland's reputation as a premier destination for international events will be firmly established as a result of hosting the 148th Open and we can't wait to show the world all we have to offer.
"From standout golf courses across the country, visitor attractions, hotels and a rich heritage to award-winning food and drink and the warmest of welcomes, Northern Ireland is perfectly positioned to host an event of this calibre."
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director championships at The R&A, said: "We are looking forward to a historic milestone with the return of The Open to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
"There is real excitement among fans to see the world's top golfers playing at Royal Portrush and it promises to be a fantastic championship."