SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Tall ships worth £4m to the economy

The Dutch brig Morgenster - Photos: Billy Fox

THE TALL Ships Races 2011 visit to Lerwick this summer has generated almost £4 million for the local economy, according to independent research being presented to councillors on Wednesday.

Shetland Islands Council invested around £1 million into staging the five day event, an investment that has been returned three times over.

The event was also supported by £40,000 from EventScotland and by £180,000 from the private sector. Local companies also made contributions in-kind worth more than £190,000.

The hugely successful community event saw 27,000 people visit the five day event between 21 and 25 July, with 97 per cent of visitors describing their experience as very good or good.

However, some commented that there should have been more shelter and that food and drink had been too expensive.

The event was slightly overshadowed by the appallingly poor July weather with strong winds leading to the departure of the 53 visiting ships to be postponed by a day.

Project manager Fiona Dally will give a final presentation on the legacy of the tall ships visit to the council’s development committee, on Wednesday afternoon.

The economic impact research, carried out by EKOS, estimates that the event generated additional expenditure in the Shetland economy of £2.41 million.

In addition, the national and international media coverage of the event is calculated to be worth a further £1.53 million.

Some of the crew of the Columbian tall ship Gloria saying farewell to Shetland.

Forty three per cent of the visitors were from outwith Shetland, with 24 per cent coming from outside Scotland. 88 per cent of people questioned said they would again attend an event in Shetland.

The meeting on Wednesday will also hear that the international organisers of the annual tall ships event, Sail Training International, were full of praise for the organisers in Shetland.

In a letter to the local organising committee’s chairman, council convener Sandy Cluness, the chairman of Sail Training International’s race committee, Knut Weston, expressed his gratitude to all involved in the event.

In her report to councillors, Ms Dally said: “The Tall Ships Races 2011-Lerwick represents a hugely successful community event, enjoyed by both Tall Ships’ crew and spectators.

“With excellent partnership working between the organising company, Shetland Islands Council, Lerwick Port Authority and the wider community, the event generated £3.94 million for the local economy.

“Event owner, Sail Training International, were extremely pleased with the host port arrangements in Lerwick and would welcome the opportunity of Shetland bidding to host the event again in the future.”