A junior golf tournament held at Lough Erne Golf Resort last week is believed to have brought in an estimated £1m to the local economy.

The Champion of Champions event returned to the luxury resort for its second year and is an example of how bringing high-quality, international events to Fermanagh can benefit the entire county.

Its success means it will return to Lough Erne Resort next year.

Around 250 junior golfers from 40 different countries competed in the event at the luxury resort, many of them accompanied by their families. For some, it resulted in a two-week stay within the region.

According to the Lough Erne Resort, the tournament brought in an estimated £1m into the local economy, with “significant business” being generated across the hospitality, food and beverage, tourism, retail, and leisure sectors.

Impartial Reporter: Barry McCauley, Golf Operations Manager at Lough Erne Resort.Barry McCauley, Golf Operations Manager at Lough Erne Resort.

Lough Erne Resort’s Golf Operations Manager, Barry McCauley, has said the success of the recent tournament demonstrates that the Fermanagh Lakelands is an “ideal region” is for major sporting events.

“The focal point may have been Lough Erne Resort, and we were full to capacity. However, many other local establishments benefitted from the economic ripple effect too.

“By our estimate, around 2,000 people visited the wider region as a result of the competition.”

Barry explained how the Lough Erne Resort enjoys a unique position within the Northern Ireland tourism sector as a luxury, experienced-based destination.

“We are also one of a very small number of resorts with a 36-hole golf option in the whole of Ireland. Both of our courses regularly receive acclaim from leading golfing journalists, members and visitors alike.

“There is no doubt that this year’s tournament will have resulted in many more international advocates for both the resort and the wider Fermanagh Lakelands region.

“Many of the visitors told us how impressed they were with the warmth of the Fermanagh welcome and the incredible tourism sites and activity options on our doorstep.

“I have no doubt there is potential for further growth of this event through close co-operation with the local council and Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism and we will happily play our part in that process, going forward.

“We are delighted that the organisers of the tournament are in discussion about coming back in 2024 with the intention of making the event even bigger than this year.”

Fermanagh is a county with endless opportunities and stands out as a unique destination for tourists with its blend of natural beauty, history and cultural experiences.

Throughout the year, many cultural events and festivals are held here and attract many to them, but how can Fermanagh become a more attractive place for international events which will bring more people to the county?

Terry McCartney, the owner of the Belmore Court and Motel in Enniskillen, believes there is plenty of opportunity for Fermanagh to attract large events that would attract visitors to the county from all over the world, such as last week’s golf event.

“That event and bigger [events] pay big dividends to the county, both in terms of the accommodation provider, but also the restaurants and the shops,” he explained.

“I mean, even when those people left here, they were leaving with bags of stuff. They were shopping up the town, and so they’re spending money.”

And he said those visitors he spoke to were “very complimentary” of their experience in Fermanagh and the golf tournament at Lough Erne.

But to attract more events like that, he feels there needs to be “more collaboration” between interested parties.

“There probably needs to be a proper event strategy because, thankfully, that event is happening next year, but I would struggle to find what events are happening on a sizeable scale.

“I know we have the Lady of the Lake Festival, a few bits and pieces at the castle. But there needs to be an integrated strategy where the Council would work with the private sector and decide these are the things that we could be going for – such as the golf or water sports events that we have had before.

“The wakeboarding championships and the waterski championships all were here. You need to look at the detail and the benefits to this part of the world but, definitely, we need more events.

“When you think back to the bigger events like the building of the hospital, the G8 and even the Proms in the Park, they provided a massive uplift in the local economy.

“We just need two or three things a year. And whether they are coming from the private sector, influenced by or driven by the local Council, that’s what we need.”

Tanya Cathcart, Marketing Manager for Fermanagh Lakelands, said large events are a “big motivator” for people to come to an area, both big and small, but also that they require a huge amount of investment and organisation.

“We always try to promote and market any events that are on in the area, because it gives people additional options once they are here.

“But also major events will bring people from further afield. I don’t think you’d find anybody that would disagree that events bring people into the area.

“The more that there is going on in the destination, and the more experiences and attractions and activities that we can offer, the better for everybody,” Tanya added.