Council on the ball with funding for major golfing event

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Financial support totalling £90,000 is to be given by Ballymena Council over the next two years to the Open Challenge staged at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.

Councillors decided to support the major golf event for 2014 and 2015 at their monthly meeting of September, last year, and last week Council’s Community Planning & Wellbeing Committee agreed to contribute £45,000 each year.

The Council’s funding, which equates to 9.6% of the overall event costs, has been planned for in its Economic Development budget.

Members heard from a Council officer that golf has become a key tourism activity which is supported as a growth sector by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB).

NITB are contributing £100k to the major golfing event this year and have confirmed their commitment for 2015, he said.

“A major tournament such as the Open Challenge brings economic benefits and the estimated key performance indicators, submitted by Galgorm Castle Golf Club, have been relatively accurate from evaluation of the event,” the officer reported.

Members were informed that the 2013 Open Challenge at Galgorm attracted 608 participants, 22,108 spectators, resulting in 2382 bednights and an economic impact of £562,914.

Last week’s Committee also agreed an officer recommendation to issue a letter of support for an expression of interest being prepared by two local businesses to bring a national Golf Tourism Conference to Ballymena in 2015-16.