Northumberland’s economy was boosted by £13.5m thanks to the Tall Ships Race, figures have revealed.
The spectacular four-day event, hosted by event partner Port of Blyth, saw nearly 500,000 people flock to Blyth – spending money in both the town and across the wider county.
Spending on eating out, accommodation and other tourism and leisure services far exceeded initial targets, officials at Northumberland County Council have revealed.
The economic impact has been verified by independent research, which also shows that there was an extremely high satisfaction rate from visitors to the event.
A total of 99 per cent of those attending the regatta described it as ‘very good’ or ‘good’ – while more than eight out of ten visitors from other parts of the UK said they would be more likely to return to the area, and spend, as a result.
Council leader Grant Davey said: “Benefits from holding the Tall Ships event in Northumberland have far exceeded our initial expectations.
“This world class event has produced a huge economic impact for the county as a whole, and particularly so in Blyth and surrounding areas.
“These figures more than demonstrate the importance of bringing high profile events to Northumberland.
“Tall Ships provided a fantastic attraction for over 400,000 residents and visitors, while also giving a huge boost to the local economy.
“Feedback at the event itself was marvellous, and this independent research confirms how much people really enjoyed it.
“The legacy is not just in finance and memories however – it also gave opportunities for volunteers and trainees to become involved in learning and in gaining life skills of huge benefit to them in the future.”
Martin Lawlor, chief executive of Port of Blyth, said: “This report highlights exactly why bringing the Tall Ships to Blyth was such a positive thing to do. The event created lasting memories for everyone who attended and to see such beneficial economic outcomes as well is fantastic for both the town and the county.”
Seventy seven sail trainees aged from 15 to 63 joined the Tall Ships crew for the race across the North Sea to Gothenburg in Sweden.
140 volunteers helped over the four event day event in various roles, many gaining qualifications in Principles of Customer Service and Volunteering.
As well as 23 majestic tall ships, the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta offered more than one-and-a-half miles of free entertainment.
The fireworks performance was accompanied by a film and musical score created by Swedish artist Cecilia Stenbom and UK composer Chris Sharkey who have worked with local people from Blyth and Gothenburg to produce the performance – made possible by a £120,000 grant from Arts Council England.
The Regatta culminated in the magnificent parade of sail on Monday afternoon, when the Tall Ships left the Port of Blyth, accompanied by a flotilla of up to 70 vessels, and sailed down the coast to St Mary’s Lighthouse before sailing five miles out to sea ready to start their 500 nautical miles race to Gothenburg.
Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, added: “The four day event was magnificent and memorable.
“I am not in the least bit surprised at the high level of satisfaction and enjoyment that has been found through the research. To see the joy and experience the excitement on the faces of the thousands of people who came along is something that will be a lasting memory for me.”
The economic impact of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta was assessed by public sector social and policy research company Spirul intelligent research, on behalf of the council.