LESS than two months after the Commonwealth Games drew to a triumphant close in Glasgow, the eyes of the sporting world are on Scotland again.
The build-up to the Ryder Cup – the biggest golf tournament in the world – at Gleneagles intensified yesterday with the arrival of the United States team, while tourism bosses unveiled a £2 million campaign they hope will leave a lasting legacy of the event – being held in Scotland for the first time in more than 40 years.
The event is expected to be watched by some 250,000 spectators over the next six days and a global TV audience of around 500 million in 183 different countries.
The estimated £100m economic benefit is expected to be spread across Scotland, with many fans having to find accommodation as far afield as Edinburgh and Glasgow due to a shortage of beds in and around Perth. It is hoped the £2m campaign will deliver benefits for years to come by persuading those who have visisted for the event to make a return visit to different parts of Scotland.
After landing in Edinburgh, US team captain Tom Watson said: “One of the things about the Ryder Cup is it brings so many people in the world of golf together. It is one of the major events of golf and to be here and be a part of it is a wonderful experience already.”
Up to 45,000 people are day are expected at the Gleneagles resort when the tournament proper, which is completely sold out, gets under way on Friday.
VisitScotland’s campaign has visited more than 50 golf tournaments around the world and is setting up a temporary complex at the tented village at Gleneagles to lure in the Ryder Cup crowds, as well as some of the 2,000 accredited media.
VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s major industries and is the largest in terms of how many people are employed. Golf is an obvious target. If you want to come to the home of golf you have to come to Scotland. There are more golf courses per head of the population in Scotland than anywhere else in the world.”
The tourism body is setting up special fan zones in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, which will promote key attractions and sites around the country and allow youngsters to try their hand at the sport. Mr Cantlay added: “I’m told around 150 private jets are due at Edinburgh airport bringing people here for the Ryder Cup. That is the scale of interest in the event.”
Thousands of golf and music fans are expected to descend on the Hydro Arena in Glasgow tomorrow night for a star-studded opening ceremony and concert headlined by American disco icon Nile Rodgers and hosted by Scottish radio DJ Edith Bowman and Irish actor James Nesbitt.
Some of Scotland’s leading musical talents, including Midge Ure, Amy Macdonald, Texas and Twin Atlantic, will appear along with flagship performing arts companies such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the National Theatre of Scotland and Scottish Opera.