A COUNCIL chief says Sunderland will receive a 16-to-one return on its £3million investment to host the Tall Ships Race.
City councillors agreed to the signing of the contract to host the four-day event in 2018, and to provide the necessary funding, at yesterday’s cabinet meeting.
An independent analysis on the experiences of previous host ports, including Newcastle, Hartlepool and Falmouth, has predicted that day visitors will spend £26.81 each per day, and the 24 per cent of visitors staying overnight will fork out on average £111.14.
In total, the income generated could be in the region of £50million.
Coun John Kelly, who is responsible for culture, told colleagues the figures meant the return on the council’s £3million investment would be at a rate of 16-to-one.
He added: “This is a very exciting project for the city. It will really bring the city together.
“With the completion of Keel Square it will really build on that heritage and bring business opportunities.”
The estimated cost of the event – which will have a festival-vibe – will be included in the city’s medium-term financial plans, and will continue to be reviewed to reduce the net costs to the council through external funding and commercial opportunities.
Council leader Paul Watson, said: “We need to capitalise on any opportunities for external funding, to contribute to the cost.
“Then we need to maximise the potential to generate revenue from business opportunities.”
It is hoped that sail training for young people will become one of the event’s legacies for the city, and will continue after 2018.
The scheme is set to be the main feature of the Tall Ships Races, in which 15 to 25-year-olds are recruited to learn new skills and make friends.
So far the council has committed to having 100 trainees, however, it is hoping to accommodate more and plans to work with schools, Sunderland University and Sunderland College over the next three years.
Coun Pat Smith said: “The fact young people of Sunderland will get that opportunity is fantastic.”
The city submitted its bid in September and was informed on October 27 that it had been successful.