The Twenty Ten course (Getty Images)
Wales relishes time in the spotlight
As the fascinating tussle for The 2010 Ryder Cup continues on the greens and fairways of The Celtic Manor’s Twenty Ten Course, the host nation of Wales has already started to reflect on the legacy that has been left behind.
It has been a nine- year journey for many of those involved in making sure that Wales’s first Ryder Cup not only goes off smoothly, but that the whole of the country grasps every opportunity provided by the association and involvement in the staging of one of the top sporting events in the world.
Tourism, inward investment and the development of the game in Wales have all come under the spotlight as organisations and individuals, government departments and golf clubs have pooled resources and worked towards the shared goal of capitalising on The Ryder Cup.
Golfers are the kind of tourists welcomed with open arms by every country with the facilities to cater for their often-discerning tastes. They come, often in large groups, they spend and, if they enjoy the experience, they return. Since Wales won Tthe Ryder Cup in 2001 they have started coming in increasingly large numbers, resulting in an extra £18m now being spent in Wales every year and, with a worldwide TV audience of around 750 million getting a good look at The Celtic Manor Resort this week, you can only assume that this is going to accelerate.
While the draw of playing a Ryder Cup Course is undoubtedly a strong one, Wales hasn’t missed the opportunity to promote some of its other fantastic courses – almost 200 of them in total. Top Seniors and Ladies Tour events have been staged in north and west Wales, while stunning images and footage has whet the appetite of intrepid golfers around the world, in search of their next challenge.
Wales has also used The Ryder Cup as a catalyst to promote itself as a place to invest and do business, creating valuable engagement opportunities with international businesses. Specially produced adverts running on Cathay Pacific and Virgin airlines have already surpassed their targets for responses, while September 2010 has seen the conference centre at The Celtic Manor Resort return record results for conference bookings, despite closing for the week of the event.
The full economic impact of The 2010 Ryder Cup to Wales will be revealed once a survey commissioned by Ryder Cup Europe is carried out in a few weeks time but there are a already a host of success stories in the business arena. A huge range of local businesses have benefited, both directly and indirectly, from Ryder Cup contracts – from construction and engineering companies to caterers, printers and suppliers of official merchandise.
Businesses and communities across Wales, but particularly around Newport, have also benefited from a programme of infrastructure improvements that have been delivered on the back of the tournament, including the ‘fast tracking’ of a new railway station and improvements to the road network. The country’s reputation for producing excellent food and drink has also been enhanced, with the finest Welsh lamb and Penderyn Welsh Whisky just two examples that have tempted the taste buds of international visitors.
But what about the game of golf and the impact that hosting Tthe Ryder Cup has had on people taking up the sport? Well, some 41 projects across the length and breadth of Wales have shared in the £2m Legacy Fund allocated by Ryder Cup Wales to help upgrade and enhance the nation’s golfing facilities. This investment has been welcomed by the 70,000 club members in Wales but has also helped to encourage more men, women and children to take up the game.
In the past eight years, Golf Development Wales has encouraged over 10,000 women to ‘pick it up for Tthe Ryder Cup', of which around 40% have gone on to take up membership of a club, while all primary schools in Newport had The Ryder Cup written into their curriculum.
Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, The First Minister off Wales Carwyn Jones said: “The Ryder Cup is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put Wales firmly on the map and one of the greatest opportunities we have to showcase our country on the world stage.
“Many millions of people will be watching this event around the world and that kind of exposure is proving invaluable to us in developing our reputation abroad for business, inward investment and tourism.
“And it doesn’t come to an end once the last shot is played. There’s a tremendous legacy from hosting this event – for the game of golf, for the economy and for the profile of Wales as a nation.”
The full and lasting legacy for Wales of hosting Tthe Ryder Cup will remain a talking point for years to come but the strapline selected for the campaign to promote the event sent out a message of both pride and ambition.
“Wales; Our First Ryder Cup” –and for many who have witnessed the show that has been put on so far at The Celtic Manor Resort and experienced the welcome and hospitality of people right across Wales, they are hoping it won’t be the last.