Donald Trump and His Golf Dollars Still Welcome in U.K.

January 19, 2016

It looks like Donald Trump’s Scottish golf investments are safe.

The British parliament debated a petition on Monday signed by hundreds of thousands of Brits that called for Trump to be banned from the United Kingdom’s shores in response to his controversial proposal to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. The debate was largely symbolic (the British parliament does not actually hold the power to ban people from the U.K.) and did not produce any resolution against the real estate mogul turned Republican presidential candidate but did give MPs a chance to denounce Trump in the strongest terms.

Some labeled Trump a “buffoon” and a “fool” while others called him “poisonous” and “corrosive.” A few suggested that what Trump needed wasn’t a ban from the U.K. but another visit. Labour MP Naz Shah said that Trump was a “demagogue” but that she would invite Trump to eat curry with her as a gesture of turning the other cheek.

One of the more even-keeled voices in the debate was Corri Wilson, the MP who represents the constituency where Turnberry is located, who tweeted that Trump’s £200 million investment in the golf course was already employing 200 people and using local materials and produce. Wilson condemned Trump’s politics but said that banning him would be “catastrophic for local community around Turnberry.” Trump has said that if a ban were to pass, he would pull more than $1 billion in planned investments in Scotland. 

The executive vice president of Trump International Golf Links in Scotland, Sarah Malone, released a statement Monday calling the whole debate “ridiculous.”

“Mr. Trump is investing hundreds of millions of pounds into the Scottish economy and its greatest assets,” Malone said. “Until now, Turnberry has been unable to attract the huge investment required to secure its future and industry chiefs have applauded Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, which has attracted tens of thousands of much-needed overseas visitors to the region. Both properties are critical to the golf, leisure and tourism sector in Scotland which we cannot afford to jeopardise.”

Malone has a point, at least about the significance of golf tourism dollars in Scotland. A report on the 2015 Open, held at St. Andrews, shows that the tournament led to £88 million in spending by tourists, a huge increase compared to the £47.5 million spent in 2010, the last time that St. Andrews hosted the Open. The tournament was not only a boon to the Fife area but also created marketing benefits.

“These excellent figures show that the connection between the game and its spiritual home is as strong and productive as ever,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. “Hosting such events is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Scotland internationally.”

With the drop in oil prices, the tourism industry is more important than ever to the Scottish economy. They may hate his politics, but for the time being, money remains the ultimate trump card.