Tourism chiefs’ message after Walker Cup success

Opening of the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham St Annes golf club
Opening of the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham St Annes golf club
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Bring on The Open – and let’s build on what has been a bumper season for visitors.

That was the dual message from tourism chiefs after an estimated 10,000 golf fans from around the world flocked to the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham and St Annes to cap a glorious summer season in memorable style.

We can build on bumper season

Hotel and restaurants put out the ‘house full’ signs and live international TV coverage of the tournament between Great Britain and Ireland and the USA’s top amateur golfers added to what they felt was the perfect promotion of Fylde as the ideal tourist destination.

With events such as the Lytham Festival, 1940s Weekend and St Annes Kite Festival having boomed in recent years and now each attracting tens of thousands of visitors, tourism is now estimated as being worth more than £200m to the Fylde economy.

Fylde Council’s tourism and leisure chairman Coun Cheryl Little said the success of the Walker Cup being held locally for the first time was further proof that our area is perfectly set up for such big occasions.

After the successful 11th hosting of The Open at Royal Lytham three years ago, it could be several years more before the world’s biggest golf event is back in Fylde – but Coun Little says the first staging of the Walker Cup locally was further ideal proof that the area is perfectly geared up for it, whenever it happens.

The Walker Cup, won in style by Great Britain and Ireland, came just days after Fylde Council signed a strategic agreement with various interested parties to aid forward planning for future Opens.

Coun Little said: “It all really whets the appetite for when The Open is held here next, whenever that might be.

“We have proved time and again in recent years that we can stage the big events and the Walker Cup was further evidence of that.

“Hotels and restaurants were packed and you just couldn’t buy the publicity generated by the TV coverage and the visitors have a successful time.

“Hopefully, it will encourage people who enjoyed what they saw to come back and spend more money here.”

Susan Felles, secretary of the Holiday Association of Lytham St Annes, said: “The Walker Cup was a wonderful boost to the season.

“We are generally fairly busy at this time of year because of Blackpool Illuminations but most hotels were booked up well in advance for the golf and there was the added bonus of many visitors to it staying on Sunday evening as well as Friday and Saturday.”

Paul and Anna Webster, proprietors of Greens Bistro in St Annes, said: “Weekends are busy for us anyway but we had to turn far more people away while the golf was here than we normally might, particularly requests for large tables.

“Ahead of the tournament, when we could accommodate the visitors, we had many more diners choosing from the a la carte rather than the set menu than might normally have been the case so the golf was very welcome.”

Meanwhile, a senior councillor has praised Fylde Council’s frontline staff for keeping the borough in tip-top shape during the busiest summer season for years.

Coun David Eaves, chairman of the council’s operational management committee, points out that staff have been starting work as early as 6.30am to tidy the streets after major events.

He said: “We have welcomed thousands of visitors – yet residents have been noticing how clean the streets have become by 9am the next morning and I want to acknowledge and congratulate the workers responsible.

“This year’s events have been huge – yet residents would barely have noticed any disruption by the time they get out and about the next day.

“The frontline staff have also done great work in preparing for the visits by In Bloom judges and for the Kite Festival.

“Again, they have done their jobs quietly, efficiently – and in a value-for-money way.

“We do it for tourists as tourism is now worth £214.3m to the local economy but residents notice their work too and many have asked me to pass on their appreciation.’

The demands on council staff increased this year due to the increased crowds but Coun Eaves added: “Such demands would have sunk some councils.

“Yet our own teams have cleaned up the most enormous mess within hours – a fantastic degree of commitment which residents are grateful for.”