What the Tall Ships Race will mean to Sunderland

SHIP-SHAPE: Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and Coun Harry Trueman celebrate Sunderland gaining the Tall Ships race in 2018.
SHIP-SHAPE: Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and Coun Harry Trueman celebrate Sunderland gaining the Tall Ships race in 2018.
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THE world-famous Tall Ships Race will come to Sunderland in 2018. KEVIN CLARK looks at reaction on Wearside and what the event can do for the city.

THE Tall Ships Race will provide a major boost for Wearside businesses, with a million visitors expected to be attracted.

Tall Ships vaox pop - Kelly Moses and daughter Aimee

Tall Ships vaox pop - Kelly Moses and daughter Aimee

City centre firms are expected to be big winners and Ken Dunbar, chief executive of the city centre Business Improvement District, is delighted at the prospect.

“It really is fantastic news that Sunderland will be a host port for the Tall Ships Race in 2018,” he said. The Tall Ships have played a key role in the regeneration of cities around the world and as an international city, Sunderland will benefit greatly from the event.

“In other cities across the world, the Tall Ships have attracted thousands of visitors who spend time and money.

“And it’s not just the additional tourism that will benefit the city. Securing host port status for the Tall Ships comes at the right time for the city and should help it to attract even more investment, building on the investment already happening and which will continue in the lead up to the event in 2018.

Tall Ships vaox pop - Keith Graham

Tall Ships vaox pop - Keith Graham

“Future plans for the Fire Station, the Vaux site, the recent public realm developments on St Mary’s Way and Keel Square, together with a number of new hotel developments either planned or underway, will help to ensure that businesses are able to capitalise on the Tall Ships not just during the event, but from now until 2018 and beyond.”

North East Chamber of Commerce head of member relations Jonathan Walker said the whole region would benefit from the Tall Ships coming to Wearside.

He said: “Having seen the incredible interest and huge visitor numbers when the Tall Ships have sailed into our region in the past, this will be a fantastic boost for the North East tourism economy as well as a real coup for Sunderland.

“The city has a growing reputation for hosting large-scale events and the successful bid for the Tall Ships is not only another demonstration of Sunderland’s ambition as a city, but also as testament to what can be achieved when the general public, businesses and the local authority work together.”

Tall Ships vaox pop - James and Elaine McDowall

Tall Ships vaox pop - James and Elaine McDowall

‘Benefits will be enormous’

CITY businessman Mick Thurlbeck paid tribute to the team responsible for bringing the Tall Ships to Sunderland – and especially John Mowbray and Paul Callaghan of the Music, Arts and Culture Trust.

“Back in early August, John Mowbray, supported by Paul Callaghan, began circulating emails to business and academic leaders in the city,” said Dr Thurlbeck.

“He asked everyone to support a bid to bring the Tall Ships to Sunderland in 2018; an appeal that many thought was futile and not worth bothering with.

“Despite all the odds, the news today that we are to stage this international event is probably the biggest achievement of its type the city has known.

“John should be congratulated on his vision, drive and determination to bring to the city an event he and Paul dreamed could be a reality.

“The benefits will be enormous and will bring about changes to the city we could never imagine possible.

“This is truly a dream come true.”

What you had to say

“I think it’s a really good idea, it is great for the city,” said 64-year-old Keith Garnham, from Easington.

“I have got a disabled daughter and so I need to work around her, but we went to Seaburn for the lights and that was really good so we will probably try to come down for the Tall Ships race.”

ELAINE and James McDowall, from Doxford Park, have been to see the race on its last two visits to the region and can’t wait to see it on home turf.

“It has been brilliant in Hartlepool and Newcastle, so it’s great it is coming to our home town,” said 58-year-old James.

Fifty-six-year-old Elaine added: “It is always good for the host city – it will bring a lit of people in.”

Mum Kelly Moses is looking forward to taking daughter Amie, two, and four-year-old Jack to see the ships.

“I think this is a really good idea,” she said.

“It will bring a lot of people into the town and create a lot of business for the pubs, hotels and restaurants.

“Newcastle always gets things like this – why shouldn’t we have it here in Sunderland?”