Open at Hoylake generated £23 million boost for Wirral’s economy says independent study

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 20: A general view on the 18th green during Day One of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 20, 2023 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
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The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake attracted 261,000 visitors and generated more than £23 million for Wirral’s economy.

The championship, held last July, delivered a total of £43 million when the wider city region is taken into account, according to an independent study commissioned by The R&A, which organises the event.

The research was conducted by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC).

The money it generated did not go to Wirral Council – it is instead a calculation of how much was generated in economic spend and benefit, such as by visitors to local businesses such as restaurants, shops and hotels, or in employing people for the event.

Independent research led by YouGov Sport also shows that £144 million of “destination marketing benefit” was delivered for Liverpool as a result of The 151st Open being broadcast worldwide through linear television and digital platforms during the week of the Championship.

The total economic benefit – £187 million – is a significant increase on the last time the region hosted The Open.

The benefit to the Wirral is up by 35% compared with 2014, the last time Royal Liverpool hosted the Championship, whilst the impact on the wider Liverpool City Region grew by 23% compared with 2017 when Royal Birkdale hosted The Open.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said: “The 151st Open generated a substantial economic benefit for the Wirral and wider Liverpool City Region with tens of thousands of fans travelling from far and wide to witness Brian Harman become the Champion Golfer of the Year and tens of millions more watching on television or digital platforms worldwide.

“The Open continues to flourish and has an outstanding track record of injecting significant additional expenditure into communities and local businesses as well as showcasing the region in which it is held to a global audience.

“We would like to thank Royal Liverpool and all of our patrons and partners for their support and commitment to helping us stage one of the world’s foremost sporting events.”

Brian Harman lifted the Open trophy

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “The Open is one of the sporting world’s crown jewels and to have the opportunity to play host to it not just once – but twice in the space of three years – is an incredible achievement for our area.

“The figures speak for themselves; The 151st Open was a massive success for our visitor economy. The fact we attracted record crowds to Royal Liverpool is testament, not only to the quality of our region’s courses, but to the infrastructure we offer and the warm welcome we gave to visitors from around the world. We know that when people visit our region, whether it’s their first time or not, I can guarantee it won’t be their last.”

Director of the Sport Industry Research at Sheffield Hallam University, Professor Simon Shibli, said: “We have worked with The R&A to measure the economic impact of The Open since 2010. We are now in the fortunate position of being able to quantify the growth of the event at each Championship course since its previous hosting.

“Advances in working collaboratively with local partners, innovations in ticketing, and increased public demand for watching live golf have all contributed to The Open’s significant growth in economic value over time.”

The 151st Open attracted 261,180 fans to Hoylake, surpassing the previous attendance of 202,917 at Royal Liverpool in 2014. This made it the second highest attended Open Championship in history, behind only The 150th Open in St Andrews in 2022.

Around 18,000 children under the age of 16 attended the Championship under the well-established ‘kids go free’ policy, which has helped attract over 400,000 young fans to The Open free of charge since the policy’s inception in 1997.

Of all spectators who attended The Open, around one in four travelled from outside of England. This was the first visit to The Open for 37% of spectators and around 76% of all spectators expressed an intention to attend at least one of the next three editions of The Open being played at Royal Troon (2024), Royal Portrush (2025) and Royal Birkdale (2026).

The research suggests 53% of visitors from outside Liverpool City Region are expected to return for a short break within a year.

Top and middle photo credits: The R&A