TOURIST bosses have honoured the Open Championship following its return to South Ayrshire last year.

The world's oldest major was recognised by Scotland’s most prestigious tourism awards after winning the ‘Best Sporting Event’ category for the Championship staged at Royal Troon last year.

Glasgow Science Centre recently hosted the regional finals of the Scottish Thistle Awards, which celebrate success in the country’s tourism and hospitality industry.

The 145th Open attracted more than 173,000 spectators to South Ayrshire, generating a substantial economic impact for Scotland and the regional economy.

The Open has now been entered in the ‘Best Sporting Event’ category at the national final awards in March next year and it will be up against the winners of the four other regional ceremonies due to take place next month.

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A said: “We are delighted to have received this prestigious award. The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and last year’s Championship at Royal Troon was attended by hundreds of thousands of spectators and watched by millions of fans around the world. We are pleased to have delivered £110m in economic benefit to the host region as a result.”

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council was delighted with the accolade and said: “I’m very proud The 145th Open at Royal Troon has won a regional Thistle Award for ‘Best Sporting Event’, reflecting the excellent partnership working that delivered such a successful event. This truly is a great accolade for South Ayrshire and is testament to our status as the birthplace of this prestigious golf championship and our fantastic golfing pedigree.

“Our people and communities received a huge economic boost thanks to The Open and South Ayrshire’s place as a first class golf and tourist destination was clear to see. I look forward to welcoming back many of our Open visitors in the coming months and years – as well as future Open Championships – and my thanks and congratulations go to our partners including, of course, The R&A and Royal Troon Golf Club. A richly deserved accolade and excellent recognition of a truly wonderful event.”

Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board members, said: “On behalf of the panel, I’d like to congratulate all our regional winners. They are a credit to themselves, their local area and the entire Scottish tourism sector.

The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by a panel of industry experts from several organisations including VisitScotland, Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sportscotland and Wild Scotland. For further information, visit: