More than £5 million was contributed to the Scottish economy as a result of the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open, according to a study released today. This figure includes £4 million to the economy of the Highlands and Islands.
The Championship took place at Castle Stuart Golf Links, near Inverness, in July 2011. This was the first time the event, organised by the European Tour, had been held in the Highlands and Islands and it is set to be repeated for at least the next two years.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) commissioned Reference Economic Consultants to undertake an economic impact assessment of the Scottish Open, which will help to inform the 2012 event and maximise the benefits to the area.
Castle Stuart were told in January 2011 that they had been chosen to host the event for up to three years, allowing only six months of preparation for the first tournament.
The study shows that £3.7 million of gross total expenditure occurred in the Inverness and Nairn area, a further £370,000 elsewhere in the Highlands and Islands and nearly £1 million elsewhere in Scotland.
The majority of spending was on overnight accommodation, food and drink.
Around 43,000 people attended the event over the three days when play took place. In addition a pro-am event was held at the course on the Wednesday bringing the total number of spectators at the course to 51,340.
The European Tour also commissioned a study by Repucom into the media coverage of the event. This showed that the coverage had a potential reach of 407million households worldwide. Some 41 broadcasters ran coverage of the event, providing a total of over 1,400 broadcast hours.
Scott Murray, Development Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said: "The Scottish Open was hailed a success despite exceptional weather conditions cutting the event short. The majority of spectators in 2011 came from Scotland but we are expecting more visitors will come from further afield this year due to positive media coverage and a longer lead in time before the event.
"The international media coverage has underlined the status of the Highlands and Islands as a golf destination in addition to wider tourism and raised profile of Castle Stuart as a 'must play' course.
"This economic impact assessment gives us a baseline to work from and suggests areas where we can improve in promoting the area and generating more economic benefits - for not just the Inverness and Nairn area but across the Highlands and Islands."
VisitScotland's Regional Director, Scott Armstrong, said: "The Scottish Open at Castle Stuart was a great opportunity to raise the profile of the Highlands as a top quality tourism product to a global audience. The event brought thousands of visitors to the area last summer, and provided a real boost to the local economy.
"Some accommodation providers were fully booked and VisitScotland worked closely with local tourism businesses to maximise the benefits of hosting this world class event. We are also absolutely delighted that the event will be returning to Castle Stuart this year and are very much looking forward to hosting it again."
Convener Sandy Park, The Highland Council, said: "The Council was pleased to promote the Scottish Golf Open at Castle Stuart and is delighted with the public's support for the event. We appreciate the huge benefit this prestigious event brought to the Highlands. We look forward to providing similar support for this year's event, which I am sure will again be a great success."