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Ryder Cup putts more than pounds 80m into Welsh economy; MAJOR SPORTING EVENT HELPS ATTRACT 'GLOBAL BRANDS'.


THE Welsh economy received a shot in the arm worth more than pounds 80m by hosting the Ryder Cup, it has been revealed.

And Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones yesterday said global brands could soon be moving here after forging links at the tournament.

There was also a strong hint from First Minister Carwyn Jones - cautiously welcomed by Ryder Cup Europe - that Wales could bid for the contest again in the future.

An economic impact study, unveiled at a press conference yesterday at the Celtic Manor hotel in Newport, where the prestigious tournament was staged, showed holding the contest was worth pounds 82.4m to Wales as a whole.

More than pounds 74m of this was felt in the south east of the country, including pounds 28.3m in host city Newport.

About 118,000 individual spectators made a total of 244,000 visits to the 38th round of golf's biggest tournament, which saw the European team edge out their American rivals by a single point.

And the financial figures - which show a direct economic impact to Wales valued at nearly pounds 54m - cover the period from the first day of practice, on Tuesday, September 28, until the planned final day on Sunday, October 3. Bad weather meant the contest ran into an unexpected fourth day, which the study did not cover, but is estimated to have been worth more than pounds 1m.

The majority of the money pumped into the Welsh economy came from spectators, who directly poured pounds 37.2m into local travel, on and off-site spending and holidays in the country after the tournament.

Contractors, hospitality guests and volunteers also spent millions of pounds.

And Mr Wyn Jones said the financial implications of the event - which cost about pounds 60m to stage - did not end with the final putt 171 days ago.

But he refused to be drawn on who the big-name brands coming to Walesl.

He said: "What I can say is these are projects with some companies with a global reach - they are multinational companies, some of them.

"Others are looking for bases in Europe and looking at Wales as a place to base their European operations."

Mr Wyn Jones moved to dispel fears that any future economic growth as a result of discussions at the tournament would be restricted to a small area.

"When we have been talking to these companies that are going to invest in Wales, they are not going to invest just in south east Wales or Newport - though some will - but the whole of Wales as a destination."

And Bridgend AM Mr Jones said hosting the tournament had established Wales as a brand worldwide.

"Wales is firmly on the map now as far as investors are concerned. You can't really attract investors to a country if they have not heard of the country in the first place."

He said the Ryder Cup had enabled the Assembly to build ties with governments around the world.

Mr Jones added: "Certainly the conversations that took place with government representatives from around the world have borne fruit.

"We now have a much closer working relationship - not exclusively, but particularly - with the US and India."

And he refused to rule out another bid for the world's third-largest sporting event - behind only the Olympics and the football World Cup - in the future.

"When the time comes, we will," he said. "We know, of course, the venues have been decided for the next few tournaments.

When the time is right I would love to see us run again."

European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills refused to rule out the contest returning to Wales.

"Without doubt Wales and the Celtic Manor have proven they can handle the event. [The Ryder Cup coming back] is some way off, but never say never."

And the First Minister said hosting the event showed how far the country had come.

"This is the biggest sporting event we could host in Wales, this is our sporting pinnacle," he said.

"Fifteen years ago this would have been regarded as a complete pipe dream."

Newport council leader Matthew Evans said he was ecstatic about the findings of the financial report, which showed a direct economic impact to the city of pounds 18.5m and a total impact valued at nearly pounds 30m.

He said: "pounds 900,000 was what the council spent for a return of pounds 28m. That is a tonic which doesn't need gin."

Russell Phillips, vice-president of facilities and development at the Celtic Manor, said: "The resort is delighted that the 2010 Ryder Cup has brought such a boost to Wales, especially at a time when economic conditions have not been easy."

And he said the hotel - run by billionaire Sir Terry Matthews - would be looking to bring in more high-profile events.

"The Ryder Cup is seen as a starting point rather than a be-all-and-end-all."

The economic impact study was carried out by IFM Sports Marketing Surveys.

> MORE: SPORT, P52&53


* The 2010 Ryder Cup, staged at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport, was worth more than pounds 80m to the Welsh economy, an economic impact study has revealed
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 24, 2011
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