Scotland’s economy was boosted to the tune of around £140 million by the Open Championship being held in St Andrews last year, according to a new independent study.
Experts at Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre crunched the numbers and found it was the largest amount achieved by a golf event in the United Kingdom or Ireland.
The study, commissioned by the R&A, also estimated that Fife’s coffers were bolstered by an extra £52m and suggested there is a “St Andrews effect” which has seen visitor numbers to the Old Course exceed all previous years. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We all know that golf and its origins are synonymous with Scotland but these excellent figures show that the connection between the game and its spiritual home is as strong and productive as ever.
“It is always a special homecoming for players and spectators alike when the Open returns to the Old Course they have the opportunity to experience not only one of the finest courses in the world, but also take in such a stunning setting on the Fife coast.
“Hosting such events is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Scotland internationally as the perfect stage for events as well as generating spend for local businesses, restaurants and hotels, and the wider Scottish economy.”
Spending by visitors to Scotland generated £88m nearly double what was raised in 2010 when the event was last held at the Old Course.
A further £52m in marketing benefit was realised thanks to the exposure gained by St Andrews and Scotland being broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide, according to separate research carried out by Kantar Media Sport Intelligence.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “The R&A brings the Open to Scotland more often than to any other part of the United Kingdom and we are delighted that a long association with VisitScotland produces measurable and sustained benefits for the economy.
“For the millions who watched on television and the many thousands who attended in St Andrews, the 144th Open was a wonderful celebration of golf. The Open is one of the world’s greatest sporting events and we look forward to staging another successful championship in Scotland this year when the Open returns to Royal Troon.”
There were 26,400 spectators from overseas at the Open. That is 28% of the total, compared to 20% in 2010.
More than two thirds of the total visitors and 80% of visitors from the UK said they expect to return to Scotland within one year thanks to the positive experience they had.
North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins, who recently helped establish an all-party group on golf at Westminster, said: “Golf is one of Scotland’s favourite activities, with a wide range of health and financial benefits to local communities so it is great to see that even more people are enjoying the sport, with thousands more visitors to St Andrews and the surrounding area.”