BRINGING the Tall Ships Race to the Wear will be a massive boost for Sunderland, says Stuart Drummond.
The former Mayor of Hartlepool was instrumental in bringing the event to the town four years ago.
“It was huge, people referred to it as Hartlepool’s Olympics,” he said.
“We estimate we had about a million visitors across the four days. We did an impact assessment and it generated over £27million for the local economy, which was absolutely fantastic.”
But there was much more to the event than simply economic benefit, said Mr Drummond.
“Everyone was walking around with a smile on their face. It was a great atmosphere,” he said.
“One of the proudest things for me was to have pensioners coming up almost in tears saying ‘Thank you for bringing this here, I have lived in Hartlepool all my life and never seen anything like this.’
“It just opened people up to new possibilities, got people’s creative juices flowing.
“It’s fair to say Hartlepool is quite insular and it brought the world to Hartlepool and gave us a chance to showcase the town to the rest of the world.
“We had people coming from all over the globe and we were able to show them the best of what Hartlepool had to offer.
“We struck up a friendship with the crews, the captains and the ships’ owners.”
Mr Drummond is confident the race will be a massive success on Wearside.
“The organisers of the Tall Ships Race were delighted with the welcome they got in Hartlepool and it has been the same when they have been to Newcastle,” he said.
“The welcome they get from the North East is second to none and I am sure Sunderland will provide the same hospitality.
“I am sure people from Hartlepool will share the benefit of their experience with the people of Sunderland because this is a great event for the whole North East.”