Global interest on a massive scale is building up for the return of the Open Golf Championship at Hoylake in six months' time.
Hotels across Wirral and the Liverpool City Region are booked up for the week of the tournament - July 14 to July 21 - and golf’s ruling body the R &A have announced that ticket sales are well up on previous recent Opens.
Talks are going on between Wirral Council and tourism outlets in the Hoylake- West Kirby area with the aim of stimulating business opportunities while hundreds of thousands of golfing fans converge on the peninsula for the world-renowned event.
Prospects have been boosted by the R&A’s decision to allow special pass-out tickets to spectators to enable free movement between the golf links and neighbouring shopping centres.
Following the 2006 Open at Hoylake's Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the number of tourists visiting Wirral rocketed. Emma Degg, Wirral Council’s head of tourism, said: “We have seen a sustained increased in visitors since 2006.
“We have outperformed the rest of the Liverpool City Region in terms of the percentage increase in business.
“The 2006 championship was incredibly successful for Wirral as well as for Royal Liverpool and the R&A. We want to repeat that success and there are certain things we want to do better.
“We want to make sure that tourism businesses – hotels, restaurants and attractions – make the most of the championship.
"This is not just about what happens in the Open week it is about the number of visitors we can attract back to Wirral.”
Emma continued: “The R&A have publicly said that the partnership between the golf club, the council and the R&A is really strong.
"They were really happy with the planning that went into the event in 2006 and that the relationship between the club, council and local people worked incredibly well.”
To ensure account is taken of the views of residents and businesses, the council has arranged a series of community meetings in Hoylake and West Kirby in the run-up to the Open.
Journalists from across the world were lavish in their praise of the friendly reception they received in 2006.
Said Emma: “National and international journalists said they were ready to write about a disaster – but there wasn’t one.
“They ended up saying how fantastic it was and the reception from local people was part of that.
“Journalists and spectators at last year’s Open at Muirfield, Scotland , said they were really looking forward to going back to Hoylake.”
Since 2006 local authorities involved in staging the Open have approached Wirral Council to talk with them about how to maximise benefits from the championship for local people.
Emma said: “We have been happy to do that.”