Investment hopes as Wales takes stock after Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup is hoistedby the winning Europe team.
Image caption As the sun sets on Ryder Cup Wales, the job of building on its economic legacy begins

Wales is taking stock after a successful climax to the Ryder Cup, which began disappointingly with a virtual washout on the first day.

Despite these early problems, officials and ministers talked up the positives of Wales' biggest sporting event.

As both the victorious Europe and beaten USA teams return home, First Minister Carwyn Jones said the job of cashing in on the tournament began now.

US ambassador Louis Susman said it had been flawless - apart from the weather.

More than 50,000 fans flocked into Celtic Manor on each of the three scheduled days of the event, which was affected by heavy rainfall.

As the Ryder Cup went into day four for the first time in its history, a further 35,000 gathered in bright sunshine to watch the tournament go down to its very last match before reaching a result.

"What a great event," said Sir Terry Matthews, the billionaire owner of the Celtic Manor Resort whose efforts helped bring the event to Wales.

"They call it the longest Ryder Cup in history and the biggest Ryder Cup in history."

"The truth of the matter is that if the golf isn't being played there are so many business people here and you're getting face-to-face time with them.

Image caption First Minister Carwyn Jones presents the Ryder Cup trophy to Europe captain Colin Montgomerie

"So the fact that we got this bonus day did no harm to anybody."

Speaking after addressing the closing ceremony, Mr Jones talked of the event's impact.

"Newport is the host city, but it's for the whole of Wales," said Mr Jones.

"And the challenge now is to build on it, to follow the leads we've had talking to business people and make sure that as far as we're concerned it's not just tourists who come to Wales in the future, and more of them, but that we get investment as well."

Speaking on the course Mr Susman, the US ambassador to the UK, said Wales was already on the right track in trying to secure a lasting legacy from the event.

"The Ryder Cup helped showcase Wales," he said. "The most important thing is that this event was handled flawlessly - if you'll forgive me saying, other than the weather."

'Lasting legacy'

The Welsh Assembly Government said the impact on Welsh golf, tourism and business was already being felt.

The number of golf tourists to Wales had jumped 32%, with the spend increasing from £23m in 2004 to £35m in 2009.

The event had also left a lasting transport infrastructure legacy for south-east Wales, it said.

Transport expert Prof Stuart Cole commented: "It was a really good job well done.

The director of Wales Transport Research Centre at the University of Glamorgan added: "I'm not very easy to impress but they have impressed me.

"I have spoken to a number of coach operators and have heard nothing from them other than they knew exactly what they had to do and that it was a success.

"The railway operation was completed by a hairs' breadth, but was ready as promised and the connections from Newport worked well.

"I could not see any downside. It was well planned."

On the Severn bridges, where new technology had been installed to allow gold fans to pay with credit cards, the Highways Agency said that to its knowledge there had been no problems.

A review of the temporary technology would take place with a view to introducing it permanently, said the agency.

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