Salmond Hails Ryder Cup 'Best Ever'

Alex Salmond says Scotland has excelled in every aspect of the Ryder Cup 2014 as Europe retained the trophy at Gleneagles.

The First Minister congratulated Paul McGinley's team after what he described as a "thrilling'' final day's play.

This year's tournament will be remembered as the best ever, according to Mr Salmond who said the legacy will continue with the Open Championship at St Andrews and the RICOH Women's British Open at Turnberry in 2015.

He said: "Gleneagles and its magnificent setting have shown the world the very best that Scotland has to offer. This event has had the finest facilities, the warmest welcome to thousands of people from around the world, and - with condolences to our US friends - the best of outcomes.

"Each day 45,000 spectators from 75 countries have enjoyed some of the best sporting moments and half a billion homes have seen the splendour of the course via TV on each day of the competition. There can be no better advert for Scottish tourism.

"It was predicted that the economic impact of staging the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles would be £100 million and I am confident that we will reach that figure or indeed exceed it.''

Scotland's hosting of the tournament has seen a reported rise in the number of visitors to the country's golf courses and a 5% increase in passenger numbers compared to the same period last year.

The food and drink industry also scored, with thousands of portions of Scottish smoked salmon and Perthshire strawberries served to competition guests, all washed down with Scottish whisky.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said: "Around 260,000 meals have been served during the tournament - that's more than a quarter of a million opportunities we have had to serve up the finest food and drink Scotland has to offer to players, officials, media and spectators from across the globe.

"And it was great to see the menus and service areas highlighting the provenance of their quality Scottish ingredients - it is clear a new benchmark has been set for all events held in Scotland to aspire to.''

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: "The Ryder Cup is an iconic event and it was always our ambition to use it as a platform to showcase our Land of Food and Drink.

"We've had many spectators comment on the quality of produce on offer, with suppliers big and small from the four corners of Scotland supplying the event.''

Tourism body VisitScotland said the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games had put Scotland on the map like never before and helped build confidence in the industry.

Chairman Mike Cantlay said: "Scotland has shown that we can win any global sporting, business or cultural event and that we have the infrastructure, security and event management capability to host everything from the smallest conference to a world class sporting spectacle.

"Our events prowess is now firmly established and we now need to work together to ensure that we use this success to convert these new Scotland fans into visitors to the country.''

Andy Murray, fresh from his own win at the Shenzhen Open, offered his congratulations to the Ryder Cup winners.

The tennis champion tweeted: "Great job Europe ... sounds like a very clinical performance at gleneagles! Imagine the celebrations could get a bit messy tonight!''

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