How much money did Tall Ships, Airshow and Illuminations bring into Sunderland in 2018?

Our writer is full of praise for Sunderland after travelling around 300 miles here for the Tall Ships Races.
Our writer is full of praise for Sunderland after travelling around 300 miles here for the Tall Ships Races.

Flagship events in Sunderland have been labelled a success after boosting the local economy by an estimated £25 million.

Spectacular summer attractions such as the Tall Ships Races and the Airshow generated around £19.3million.

The Red Arrows at Friday night's Airshow display.

The Red Arrows at Friday night's Airshow display.

And early predictions for the Sunderland Illuminations – held between October and November –  are that it is expected to boost the city economy by £6-8million.

The figures factored in spending from Sunderland residents and visitors, with the Tall Ships bringing in 1.2million people.

On its 30-year anniversary, Sunderland Airshow also brought in 600,000 visitors over three days.

Head of events at Sunderland City Council, Victoria French, told the Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee: “From the Tall Ships we had an international reach, there were a lot of international people who attended, whether they came to Sunderland for the event or were in the country for a holiday and made time for that.

“With regards to the airshow (visitors) are mainly from Sunderland compared to the Illuminations which bucks the trend on this.

“We have more non-residents coming to the Illuminations particularly from the Stockton, Middlesbrough and Teesside area and yet we don’t do any target marketing in that specific area.

“The airshow we think is seen as only for Sunderland residents but that’s something we need to improve upon to attract people from outside the area.”

Reports on the events outlined feedback from visitors, with Tall Ships comments raising issues around the availability of seats, buses and queues.

Some feedback for the Sunderland Airshow also focused on weather, food and drink prices and the need for more toilets on site – despite 88 being provided this year.

Sunderland City Council agreed to invest £3million into the Tall Ships in 2015 but months before the event, council bosses released extra funding.

The £2million bill was linked to infrastructure works such as dredging the River Wear and fixing handrails alongside the cost of hiring pontoons.

In response to a question from Coun Stephen O’Brien, the meeting heard the council made around £10,000 in profits from Tall Ships merchandise.

Future plans include selling Tall Ships-related merchandise in tourist venues in Sunderland such as the Winter Gardens and National Glass Centre.

Council bosses are also expected to work with the University of Sunderland to use riverside space in St Peter’s for events in future.

Ms French added the attendance figures for the 2018 events programme showed Sunderland had “raised the bar high”.

“It’s how we progress on that for next year,” she added.

Full tourism statistics linked to the events and their impact will also be released next year.

Tall Ships Races  

Visitors tended to be from the North East and travelled by train or foot.

The average spend for Sunderland residents was £8.54 per person and £6.50 for non-resident day visitors.

Overnight visitors also spent an average of £21.90 per person at the event, with the largest proportion linked to accomodation and food and drink.

Sunderland’s 30th Airshow

Visitors tended to be from the North East with a mixture of ages and household incomes.

Visitors typically travelled by car or walked.

The average spend for a Sunderland resident was £12.08 per person and £6.50 for non-resident day visitors.

Overnight visitor spend was £31.36 per person with the largest proportion linked to accomodation.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service