Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell, has welcomed the start of the Northern Ireland Open being held at Galgorm Castle.
Speaking before the start of the competition the Minister said: “The profile of Northern Ireland golf and the NI Open continue to go from strength to strength attracting both local visitors and international golf enthusiasts.
“Hosted by the Galgorm Castle Golf Club and part of the European Challenge Tour’s international schedule I am sure this year’s event will once again impress. With both established and future golfing stars competing for success we can look forward to a showcase of sporting excellence.
“Golf operates on a worldwide scale so there has never been a better time to tap into its tourism potential. The Irish Open this year was a huge success with large crowds and images being beamed around the world. Our ambition here is to grow the value of golf tourism to £50million a year by 2020. Last year the Galgorm showpiece broke all attendance records for any European Challenge Tour event. I want to see tourism here grow and I believe golf has a major part to play in achieving this objective.
“Along with the competition and the stunning surroundings visitors can also expect to be impressed with the food festival being held in the grounds of the castle. Next to our reputation for great golf and golfers, Northern Ireland is increasingly become known for excellent hospitality and food and this festival will give people a chance to see and try some of the local produce on offer.”