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Italy welcomes tourism boost from hosting Ryder Cup for first time

ROME - The Ryder Cup is giving tourism in Rome a big boost, Italian government officials said on Saturday, with the region around the host capital ranking first in the country for numbers of online bookings.

The event being staged in Italy for the first time, at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, has lured thousands of fans from the United States and Europe to see the two teams battle it out over three days.

Tourism ministry data show that as of Sept. 25 some 58% of rooms available through online channels had been booked in Rome's central Lazio region, more than in any other region of Italy and well above a national monthly average of 45.5%.

"We understand, once again, the propulsive thrust that tourism receives from major sporting events," Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche said in a statement, citing the Ryder Cup as the underlying reason for the high numbers in the capital.

Rome's bookings stats were above those reported for the southern Campania region - with the Amalfi Coast and the islands of Capri and Ischia - and Tuscany, with tourist hotspots including Florence, Siena and the Chianti hills.

The capital's mayor Roberto Gualtieri also praised the Ryder Cup's positive effect on tourism and stressed the importance of hosting big events in the city, as the Italian government pushes ahead with a bid to host the Expo 2030 world fair in Rome.

Italy's postal services group Poste Italiane is also jumping on the bandwagon. On Friday it said it has issued a stamp to commemorate the first day of the Ryder Cup, showing the tournament logo with a golfer on its left side and the Colosseum in the background. REUTERS