Last night Tourism NI marked the start of the official build-up to The 148th Open held at Royal Portrush later this year. The event was held at the Titanic Belfast.
Celebrations kicked off last night with Tourism NI unveiling a short cinematic film, produced by Martin Stalker, to celebrate just how Northern Ireland has come as a leading tourist destination.
Set to an original poem by local poet Paula Matthews, the film is narrated by leading actors Ian McElhinney, Bronagh Waugh, Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Shaun Blaney.
The film is accompanied by an original score composed and performed by Belfast-born virtuoso pianist, Michael McHale.
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said: “There is great excitement among golf fans for the return of The Open to Royal Portrush for the first time in nearly 70 years. “This is reflected in the unprecedented demand for tickets which has led to all four Championship days being sold out for the very first time and the evident enthusiasm for golf throughout the island of Ireland.”
Speaking at the event, Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan said: “The ambitious plans set 10 years ago have transformed Northern Ireland and our ambitions for the future are just as big. Our golfing story is a global success and that has brought us right here tonight as we look forward to 190,000 fans and visitors from across the globe descending on Royal Portrush in July for the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland.
“The 148th Open will leave a legacy that will benefit Northern Ireland for years to come. It will boost our reputation as a premier destination for international events and gives a well-earned boost to the development of our hard-working tourism businesses.
“Together with the R&A, our colleagues in Causeway Coast and Glens Council, volunteers, contributors, golf clubs and tourism businesses, we will deliver not only an incredible event, but a true Northern Ireland experience. It will lead us all to Sunday, July 21, when the final putt will be sunk and the famous Claret Jug will be held aloft”