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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 01:11 GMT 02:11 UK
Hoylake ready for golfing glamour
by Mark McGregor
BBC News, Hoylake

Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake
The Royal Liverpool at Hoylake hosts its first Open since 1967
A small seaside town in Merseyside is enjoying its day in the sun as the eyes of the world focus in for the 135th Open Championship.

Hoylake, a former fishing village nestled on the Wirral peninsula, is playing host to the world's best golfers and the 600 members of the media that follow them.

It is providing a profile boost that not even George Clooney can overshadow as Open play gets under way at the Royal Liverpool course for the first time since 1967.

And with a further 249,999 visitors expected to join Mr Clooney passing through the town (population: 5,710) before the close of play on Sunday, local business owners are rubbing their hands.

Kevin Adderly, Wirral Borough Council's Head of Strategic Development, told the BBC: "The area is coping extremely well. It's a wonderful sight to behold.

"There are many visitors from all over the world who all seem to be enjoying themselves in the sunshine.

George Clooney
I haven't spoken to George Clooney as yet, although obviously many people claim to have done so far
Kevin Adderly, Wirral Council

"Hotels are doing well, as are restaurants, bars, local shops and petrol stations. All of the usual service industries are doing particularly well," he said.

Bars around the town, which despite its modest size enjoys a thriving nightlife, are doing a roaring trade.

And those residents who decided to escape the attention could be counting the money if they managed to rent their home out to golfers or corporate guests.

Before the tournament, estate agents were estimating that some home owners could earn between 15,000 to 18,000.

Long-term benefits

Gary Laycock, who manages the popular La Bodega bar, said: "It has been very busy this week - all fun and frivolity - it's been good.

"All of the golfers have been in mixing and socialising. Messrs Clark and Westwood and the like have all been down."

But what of the long-term benefits? An economic impact study carried out after the last Open at St Andrews found the event was worth 95m to the local area.

About 55m of that was spent in Fife by people attending the golf, which would be a "wonderful boost" for the Wirral economy, Mr Adderly added.

But it is the worldwide television and press exposure the Open brings that could prove particularly lucrative in the long-term.

About 200m homes across the world will watch the event on television which the study suggests is equivalent to about 40m of free advertising, Mr Adderly said.

Crowds arriving in Hoylake
The crowds have been getting bigger in Hoylake all week

"We really do hope - and we are particularly confident - that we will get a significant number of return visitors back to the Wirral as a result of the Open's presence here.

"I have been speaking to people from America and across the globe who tell me how awestruck they have been by the welcome and the experience," he added.

"Certainly we will see repeat tourism visitors, not only to Wirral but the North West as a whole."

Since news of the Clooney sighting at the Ship Inn, the town has also been besieged by those hoping to spot the stars swapping Hollywood for Hoylake.

But the actor is not one of the many Americans Mr Adderly has been speaking to about a future trip to Wirral.

"I haven't spoken to George Clooney as yet, although obviously many people claim to have done so far," he added.


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