THE warm welcome offered by Hoylake residents to visitors to the Open Championship has been praised by council leaders.
When Hoylake hosted the Open in 2006 it set a record for the highest attended Open ever, with 230,000 people attending over the week.
That is a record Hoylake still holds despite this year’s event attracting less than that, although all predictions on attendance for the 143rd Open were met.
Even Saturday’s wet conditions failed to put a dampener on events, with crowds turning up in their thousands for the third day when the weather helped Hoylake chalk up another first – the first ever two-tee start in the history of the 154-year-old championship.
With Hoylake and Wirral presented beautifully in mostly glorious sunshine, the area received unprecedented worldwide positive publicity and is expected to receive a considerable boost to tourism as a result.
Another positive legacy will be the partnerships forged by inviting key business leaders and influences as guests of Wirral during the Open, showcasing its potential as a business local to investors.
Councillor Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council, said: “There has been an unprecedented amount of positive media interest in Hoylake and Wirral as a result of the championship and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“As in 2006, one of the most memorable aspects of the week has been how residents have made our visitors feel welcome.
“Journalists in the media centre who travel all over the world to cover these kinds of events have commented on the unprecedented level of local interest, the buzz in the town, and how they have been made to feel part of the community.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been part of this – the R&A, residents, businesses, and our staff and contractors for making it such a success and for sending our guests away happy.”
Chief executive Graham Burgess echoed the comments on the council leader, adding: “I am very proud of the welcome Wirral has given our visitors during the Open and the way our staff have rose to the challenge, particularly around making sure that roads and infrastructure worked efficiently.
“This week has been a fantastic opportunity for us to show Wirral to the world and I am confident that the benefits to jobs and the economy will be felt for many years to come.”
The council has been working hard to use the boost to the region’s profile created by the Open to drive the economy, grow employment and ensure local businesses reap the benefits of hosting one of the largest sporting events in the world.
During the championship, Birkenhead-based he Contact Company announced that it was creating more than 100 new jobs over the next six months thanks to major new contracts with Sainsbury’s and digital TV service provider U View to provide customer service call handling.
Wirral guests at the Open included a range of national and international companies and organisations with a focus on the offshore energy and automotive supply chain sectors.
Businesses represented include Dong Energy Group, Osiris Projects, Solar Consulting Australia, Bentley Motors, McLaren, Jaguar Land Rover, General Motors and Toyota.
Throughout the Open week. Wirral Chamber of Commerce showcased everything from breakfast cereals to offshore survival kits at a special exhibition at Egerton House.
Paula Basnett, CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce said: “I can’t think of a better opportunity to show off the skills of some of our thriving businesses and then excellence of their products are created here on our doorstep."