Local traders must benefit from Open - McKillop

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TUV councillor Sharon McKillop has welcomed news that the Open is coming to Royal Portrush but warned that lessons must be learned from the last major golfing event in order to maximise benefit to the local community.

Commenting Mrs McKillop said: “I welcome the fact that the Open is to come to Royal Portrush. It is a world class golf course in a small country which has proven to have a remarkable ability to produce world class golfers. I hope that this will not only be a great sporting event but it will showcase a beautiful part of Northern Ireland to a global audience.

“However, it is important that lessons are learned from the experience of the Irish Open which was staged at Portrush in 2012.

“While this is widely perceived to have been an unmitigated success- and there were undoubtedly benefits - there was a negative impact on local business when the Open was taking place. People attending the event were bussed to Royal Portrush and the majority never entered the town at all. Others who would normally go into Portrush avoided the town because they were afraid of being caught in traffic congestion caused by the Open.

“I would like to see lessons being learned from this so that local trades share in what should be a golfing bonanza. Hotels and B&Bs in the area also need assistance to ensure that all available local accommodation is utilised.”

TUV leader Jim Allister added: “I commend Sharon for highlighting these issues which I know will be a cause of real anxiety among local businesses given the experiences of 2012.

“I will be pressing this matter at Stormont and have already tabled a question to the Enterprise Minister.”