Saturday, 17 November 2012
(l-r): Peter Reed, Captain of HK Golf Club; Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Rt. Hon. Peter D Robinson MLA; Jamie Birkmyre, Championship Director of the UBS Hong Kong Open; deputy First Minister, Martin McGuiness MLA; and Peter Aherne, HK Golf President  (Getty Images)
(l-r): Peter Reed, Captain of HK Golf Club; Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Rt. Hon. Peter D Robinson MLA; Jamie Birkmyre, Championship Director of the UBS Hong Kong Open; deputy First Minister, Martin McGuiness MLA; and Peter Aherne, HK Golf President (Getty Images)

During their trade visit of Hong Kong and China, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Rt. Hon. Peter D Robinson MLA, and deputy First Minister, Martin McGuiness MLA, visited the UBS Hong Kong Open, where they met with European Tour officials for on-going discussions regarding their golfing strategy.

It was the second time this year that the Ministers had attended an event on The European Tour International Schedule following their visit in June to Royal Portrush Golf Club, in Northern Ireland, for The Irish Open.

The political delegation spent several hours on Saturday afternoon at Hong Kong Golf Club, in Fanling, where they were welcomed on behalf of The European Tour by Jamie Birkmyre, the Championship Director of the UBS Hong Kong Open, and Ben Cowen, the Tour’s Deputy Director of International Policy.

They then attended a welcome reception in the Clubhouse, which was hosted by Peter Reed, Captain of Hong Kong Golf Club (HKGC). Other dignitaries in attendance included Peter Aherne, President of the Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA); Iain Valentine, Chief Executive of the HKGA; Keith Williams, Chief Executive of HKGC; and Mikael Eriksson, Tournament Director of the UBS Hong Kong Open.

The First Minister and deputy First Minister were then escorted around the historic clubhouse by Keith Williams and given a guided tour of the Tented Village and the course by European Tour officials, before leaving the club to continue their business mission in Hong Kong.

The First Minister said: “The participation and success of our local golfers around the world has shone the international spotlight on Northern Ireland, giving us the ideal opportunity to promote local tourism.

“China is a significant emerging market, which is why we are working to build awareness of Northern Ireland as a tourism destination. Golf tourism currently generates over £14 million per year for the local economy in Northern Ireland, with the average spend per golf visitor coming in at £300-£450, significantly higher than the average visitor spend.”

The deputy First Minister said: “As our golfers continue to play at the highest level of competitive golf around the world, more people will want to come to play the courses that our local golfers enjoy, and this will increase tourism spend in our local economy.

“Tournaments such as the UBS Hong Kong Open represent a window to the world to gain further widespread exposure, and we are working to make the most of the opportunities created by our world-class golfers. Promoting our golf offering to an international audience and capitalising on the current international interest in our local golfers will help grow tourism here.”

Jamie Birkmyre, Championship Director of the UBS Hong Kong Open, said: “It was an honour to host the First Minster and the Deputy First Minister at the UBS Hong Kong Open. Their commitment to golf and The European Tour was evident in their support at the Irish Open, and we were delighted that they took time out of their busy schedules to attend another of our prestigious tournaments. We hope that they thoroughly enjoyed their visit, and we look forward to welcoming them to more tournaments in the near future.”

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