Stormy weather won’t blow €140m Ryder Cup tourism windfall off course

HIGH winds may have blown yesterday’s Ryder Cup schedule off course but upbeat tourism chiefs say the industry is still on target to benefit massively from the event.

Tourism Ireland spokeswoman, Fiona Scott, said being lashed by rain and gales will not have been a surprise to the overseas visitors attending the tournament, and would not put them off returning.

“Firstly, we have never promoted Ireland on the basis of weather,” said Ms Scott. “Secondly, those who are here are seasoned golf tourists, and adverse weather would be par for the course.”

Minster for Arts, Sports and Tourism, John O’Donoghue, has said he expects the world’s largest golfing event to directly net e140 million in tourism revenue — through accommodation bookings, coach travel, dining out and associated expenditure by 40,000 spectators attending each day.

With the competition reaching a television audience of hundreds of millions, however, the longer term view is that the 150,000 golf tourists who come to Ireland each year could be multiplied.

Massive marketing campaigns have been running at tourism events abroad piggy-backing on the Ryder Cup, and it is also hoped that many other tourists will be attracted to visit for non-golfing holidays.

“We used the Ryder Cup to promote Ireland as a destination, not just for one sporting event in September, but for any one of the many different types of holidays and activities that are available here all year round,” Ms Scott said.

For visitors and Irish ticket-holders not lucky enough to have the much-coveted parking passes for the K-Club venue, the first challenge yesterday was just getting to the Co Kildare course.

Irish Rail, who are running special trains from the Connolly Station in the city centre to Leixlip, linking up with shuttle buses to the course, said services were restored with minimal delay after their three-hour postponement during bad weather yesterday morning.

“Some people had already travelled out when the announcement of the postponement was made and they were accommodated on the buses and tea and coffee was being sold so they were looked after in that way,” said spokeswoman Cliodhna Ni Fhatharta.

“Anyone else who came to Connolly waited in the station where we had a large number of our own staff looking after them and keeping them informed.

“Once we got the call that we could start running services again, we were able to get the buses moving within five minutes and get a train away almost immediately so the backlog was cleared very quickly.”

She said generally passengers remained in good humour.

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