Northern Ireland

The Open: Portrush's £17m makeover ahead of golf championship

The town of Portrush
Image caption The regeneration project has seen £500,000 pumped into revitalising local shop fronts

Portrush has had a multimillion-pound makeover ahead of the 148th Open Championship in the town next month.

The regeneration scheme took two-and-a-half years and cost £17m.

Works completed include a £6m public realm scheme, a new £5.6m train station and £500,000 to revitalise local shop fronts.

The revamp was led and funded by the Department of Communities, ahead of golf's oldest championship coming to Royal Portrush in July.

"The department believes this investment will not only support The Open Golf Championship but will create a legacy for Portrush in the future," said Tracy Meharg, the department's permanent secretary.

"It will benefit not just Portrush, but also the wider area and ultimately the whole of Northern Ireland."

'Boost tourism'

Local traders who benefited from the revitalisation scheme are optimistic about the trade The Open could bring to the town.

Andrew Hill from Trogg's surf shop said there had been "an influx of Canadian and American visitors" since the Irish Open was held there in 2012.

Image caption Andrew Hill predicts tourism in the town will get a boost from The Open

"I think with 600 million people watching on TV, it's only going to boost the tourism in this town," he said.

Elaina Crawleys, who runs The Quays pub in Portrush, said the town has been in need of a makeover for years.

"Anything that brings attention to our little town and puts us on the map is going to be a great thing," she said.

"The amount of people that will be coming day in and day out, they've got to stick around for something and I hope we can give them something to stick around for."

Some 215,000 spectators are expected during the tournament.

'A great event'

Getting them in and out of Portrush is a huge logistical operation but Chris Conway, chief executive of Translink, said they are ready and extra services will be available.

"There's lots of planning gone into it and lots of additional transport arrangements.

Image caption £5.6m has been pumped into building a new train station for Portrush

"I would encourage people to go online and get their transport booked as soon as possible.

"There will be times people will have to be patient but we think this will be a great event," he said.

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