Golf tourism contributed a record £68.2m to the north’s economy in 2023

North American market remains the most lucrative for NI tourist sector

A view overlooking Ballycastle Golf Club.
A view overlooking Ballycastle Golf Club. New figures suggest the value of golf tourism has grown by 31% since 2019.

The contribution of golf tourism to the north’s economy reached a record £68.2 million in 2023, according to analysis by Tourism NI.

The body said the value of golf tourism has grown steadily since The Open Championship returned to Royal Portrush in 2019.

The sector was worth £52m in that year, according to Tourism NI.

The research found North America remained the priority market for golf visitors, accounting for £36.2m of total value in 2023.

Golfers from Britain generated £11.9m, while domestic overnight and day visitors contributed £8.4m.

The report also suggests the overall number of non-domestic golfers visiting the north increased from 23,400 in 2019 to 29,000 in 2023.

Those who travelled from furthest afield, such as North America or outside Europe, on average played one round at five different courses.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland has been named the best golf destination in western Europe by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO), which bases its awards on votes from 660 global golf tour operators.