Tourism Ireland’s golf promotional programme for 2018 kicked off recently in Orlando, Florida.

Twelve Irish golf and tourism operators – including Ballyliffin Golf Club (pictured) – as well as two American golf tour operators, joined Tourism Ireland at the PGA Golf Merchandise Show in Orlando.

The PGA Show is one of the biggest golf exhibitions in the United States, attracting more than 40,000 golf professionals and enthusiasts, as well as around 1,000 influential golf journalists, each year.

Some 1.83m visitors from North America visited Ireland last year, according to Tourism Ireland.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, said: "Our aim is to deliver a five per cent increase in visitor numbers and seven per cent increase in revenue from North America in 2018."

She added: “The American golf market remains a priority for Tourism Ireland in 2018 and we will continue to promote the island of Ireland as a top golf destination, capitalising on the global success of our golfers including Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell.

“Golf is the world’s largest sports-related travel market and Tourism Ireland is working hard to drive home the message that a golfing holiday in Ireland is about much more than a round of 18 holes.

"The combination of our world-class golf and our unique brand of hospitality plays a key role in attracting American golfers to visit.”

PIC SHOWS: Tourism officials at the PGA Golf Merchandise Show in Orlando. Photo credit: Russell Kirk.

The tourism officials at the event included Gareth McCausland, Ballyliffin Golf Club; Charlene Reid, Royal Portrush Golf Club; Paul Collins and John McLaughlin, both North & West Coast Links; Judy Hutton, Portstewart Golf Club; Alan Maloney, Mount Falcon Estate; Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland; Paul Beresford-Green, Royal County Down Golf Club; Barry Phelan, Galway Bay Golf Resort; John Farren, Ballyliffin Golf Club; and Billy Condon, Tourism Ireland.

A spokeswoman said: "Tourism Ireland will roll out an extensive programme of activity to promote golf on the island of Ireland in the United States this year – in particular highlighting the 2018 Irish Open at Ballyliffin and The Open in 2019 at Royal Portrush.

"Building on the successful ‘Home of Champions’ campaign, Tourism Ireland’s TV ad will air on the NBC Golf Channel and online on Golfchannel.com around the majors – kicking off with the Masters at Augusta in April.

"A digital campaign will run on popular golf websites, driving potential golf holidaymakers to Ireland.com/golf; and Tourism Ireland will invite influential American golf journalists to come and experience our world-class courses for themselves."

Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.

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