Irish Ryder Cup was biggest ever

By Brian Keogh

Ireland's Ryder Cup was Europe's biggest ever with a windfall of €143 million for the economy.

That's the assessment of number crunchers Deloitte & Touche, who reckon the "knock on" effect to the country could be worth closer to a quarter of a BILLION euro.

The accountants and tax consultants were commissioned by Fáilte Ireland and the European Tour to work out the financial benefits of the matches to the country.

And the estimated €143 million total makes the K Club classic the biggest Ryder Cup ever held in Europe - 32 percent higher than the Belfry in 2002 and 80 percent more than at Valderrama in 1997.

Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills said: "We are delighted that these figures, calculated using conservative methodology, accurately reflect the increasing popularity of the Ryder Cup and golf in the market place.

"In addition to spending three days at the Ryder Cup, visitors from America stayed in Ireland for a further 4.7 days, while other overseas visitors stayed for an additional three days."

According to Hills, Fáilte Ireland reckons that the visitor numbers last September was up 90,000 on the 2005 figure thanks to the Ryder Cup.

Event organisers and fans shelled out an average of €350 PER DAY during the matches.

But the biggest spenders by far were the Americans, who parted with an average of €600 a day each.

Deloittes point out in the report that total spectator spending was up 60 percent compared to The Belfry in 2002.

This was mostly due to the increased week-long attendance of 260,000 in 2006 compared to 147,000 in 2002.

Ireland also benefited from a more than 50 percent increase in spending by fans outside the event compared to 2002, with overseas spectators staying longer and spending more than ever before on extended holidays around the Ryder Cup.

The report has been billed as a "conservative" calculation of the Ryder Cup’s impact with only directly measurable expenditure included in the calculations.

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue said: "Not only does the report confirm that the total economic benefit of the event to the economy comfortably exceeded earlier estimates.

"It also confirms previously reported perceptions about our visitors' experience, with over 80 percent suggesting that they would return to Ireland in the future and 92 percent prepared to recommend Ireland as a golfing holiday destination."

Deloitte calculates that when the knock-on effect is taken into account, the full impact of the 2006 Ryder Cup on the Irish economy was around €240 million.