Politicians and business leaders have hailed the economic impact of the Scottish Open on the eve of Royal Aberdeen playing host to the prestigious event.
First Minister Alex Salmond said the star-studded competition, which starts tomorrow, could generate as much as £6million nationally, with a large portion of spending concentrated in and around the Granite City.
Lord Provost of Aberdeen George Adam said it was an “honour” for the city to host the tournament, which he said has created a “buzz”.
Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) said the wider boost to the international profile of the city “cannot be underestimated”.
Hoteliers are expecting a “very busy” weekend, although it emerged there are still some rooms available for last-minute visitors.
More than 65,000 people attended last year’s event at Castle Stuart near Inverness.
The 2014 tournament will be broadcast live on network television in America for the first time, with a worldwide audience in the tens of millions across 140 countries around the globe.
Aberdeenshire East MSP Mr Salmond, speaking on a visit to the north-east yesterday, said: “The Scottish Open is the first of this summer’s major sporting events that will showcase Scotland to the world.
“It is an incredible opportunity for the whole country but in particular for the north-east, which will benefit directly from the £6million economic boost the Open will deliver.
“With a top class field, an amazing course and wonderful scenery, this tournament is one that is circled on the calendars of players and fans alike.
“It’s being beamed to a global audience and is the first regular European Tour competition to be given prime-time coverage on US network television, cementing Aberdeen’s position on the golfing map.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the figures quoted in terms of the economic boost included all spending, including on tickets, hotels, restaurants, transport and the knock-on benefit for other areas of business.
Visit Aberdeen said the tournament would help drive “leisure tourism” in the region, which, at present, predominantly comes from midweek business travel.
Spectators from around the world are expected to flock to the city to watch stars including Rory McIIroy, Paul Lawrie and last year’s winner Phil Mickelson.
James Bream, research and policy director at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce added: “The immediate economic impact for the hospitality sector will run into several millions of pounds and the event is an amazing international showcase for the region’s tourism industry.
“It is exciting to see top golfers playing Royal Aberdeen, one of a string of fantastic courses around the north-east.
“The lift in Aberdeen’s global profile from hosting the event cannot be underestimated, especially the effect in the US, which is a major trading partner and the largest international market for the oil and gas industry in Scotland.
“We hope the event helps underlines the north-east’s prominence as a great place to live, work and visit.”
Chris McGuinness, chairman of Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association, said there were still rooms available – and good deals to be snapped up – for people booking late.
He said: “The rates reflect the fact that Aberdeen is in a unique position to offer very competitive prices at the weekend when there is reduced demand from business travellers.
“We hope that the hotel sector, as well as restaurants, bars, shops and visitor attractions, will continue to reap the benefits the exposure will bring, particularly as a result of being screened on television in the USA, beyond the tournament itself.
“We have been working closely with a number of partners to help raise the profile of the city and shire as a short weekend break destination, and fantastic, high-profile events like the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open can only help us in achieving that goal.”
Lord Provost of Aberdeen George Adam said the event had created a “real buzz” in the city.
He added: “It is a great honour for Aberdeen.
“It provides a brilliant opportunity to show off our city across the world, not only to visitors who travel here to see the tournament, but also on television screens worldwide.
“I’m looking forward to seeing great golf being played by some of the biggest names in the sport.”