The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta held in Blyth during August boosted Northumberland’s economy by a massive £13.5million.
The spectacular four day event saw nearly half a million people flock to the seaside town on Northumberland’s coast – spending money in both Blyth and across the wider county.
Spending on eating out, accommodation and other tourism and leisure services far exceeded initial targets and has demonstrated the huge value to the county.
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 remarkable 99% 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.
Cllr Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council 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.”
77 sail trainees aged from 15 to 63, with many from Northumberland sponsored by local councillors, joined the crew of the magnificent Tall Ships during the race across the North Sea to Gothenburg in Sweden. The sail trainees picked up career-enhancing experience of demanding team and individual challenges as well as lifelong memories of the adventure.
140 volunteers, again most from Northumberland, 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 largest event to ever take place in Northumberland, the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta offered more than one and a half miles of free entertainment. Visitors were able to climb on board some of the ships, enjoy free family fun, live music, street theatre, fairground rides as well as a fireworks and an evening performance each night.
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. This was part of an extensive cultural programme, 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.
Cllr Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at Northumberland County Council 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.”
Northumberland County Council hosted the regatta in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International. Fergusons of Blyth, one of the UK’s leading privately owned haulage companies and the biggest in the North East, was the Principal Sponsor of the event in celebration of their 90th Anniversary.
Over 1,000 staff and volunteers worked during the four days, with many accommodation providers in Northumberland sold out over the weekend.
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.