Praise Rolls in as the Tall Ships Sail Out
Economic impact of over £15 million expected as Cornwall counts the benefits of the fifth Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta
Following the largest flotilla in living memory in Falmouth Bay, the 2014 Tall Ships Regatta has come to a close and organisers are evaluating the effects of the spectacular event for the Cornish economy whilst feedback floods in. As the regatta fleet of 44 vessels paraded behind the 110-metre Polish tall ship Dar Mlodziezy under glorious sunshine and blue skies, Falmouth Bay was packed with a send-off flotilla of thousands of local craft and crowds of people lined the shore and key vantage points to admire the rare spectacle.
More than 70,000 people visited the Tall Ships Regatta site at Falmouth Docks during the first three days and over 100,000 people took to the water on boats and made the most of vantage points around the town for the magnificent Parade of Sail on Sunday. Richard Gates, the Town Manager for Falmouth has estimated that over 230,000 people visited the Cornish port over the four days and businesses across the town have been staggered by the uplift in sales. Meanwhile visitors have been praising the customer service and cheerful spirit that was constantly felt across the town thanks to the event volunteers and partners.
The Tall Ships Event Manager, Sam Groom said, “Our initial estimates for spend per head already sit at a total of £8.5 million but this is only for day visitors and does not include the accommodation and hospitality spend of all of the thousands of people staying in and around Falmouth and across Cornwall. Many hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering options were booked-up more than a year in advance for this event and from June onwards it was almost impossible to find a bed in Falmouth, so the major input into our economy is obvious.”
The spend per head doesn’t include all of the infrastructure behind the event. The Tall Ships Regatta also brings in extra police and emergency services, the teams from all sponsors, partners and supporters, over 80 members of the media, various traders and organisations with stands on site, all of the Sail Training International team and support crew as well as many volunteers who made their way to Falmouth. All these hundreds of extra people need somewhere to stay and they all eat and relax around town when the day is done. Event organisers are awaiting feedback from key accommodation providers and will be able to release further figures about this significant economic value shortly. However, at this stage, that amount is likely to exceed £15 million.
The Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta was also incredibly supported in kind by many individuals and organisations. Over 220 volunteers took part, many working with Volunteer Cornwall, and in addition a number of companies and organisations such as the National Maritime Museum, A&P, Port Pendennis Marina, Falmouth Tall Ships Association, Cornwall Marine Network, Falmouth Town Council and Falmouth BID provided resources, infrastructure, staff time and support in a plethora of ways. And a huge further number of event partners, supporters, volunteers and individuals continually went above the norm to help stage the event and make it such a resounding success.
Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Heritage and Planning said “This has been a wonderful event which has attracted a huge number of people to Falmouth, many of whom have not only taken the opportunity to visit these wonderful ships but have also enjoyed a varied programme of entertainment. Organising events like this involves a large number of people and I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make the 2014 Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta such an outstanding success. In particular, I would like to thank John Hick, Chair of the Falmouth Tall Ships Association; Sam Groom and her team at Cornwall Development Company, who have all put in a heroic effort over the last 12 months, all the event partners, stakeholders and sponsors for their support and commitment and, of course, the emergency services who have played a vital role in the event’s organisation.”
Suzanne Bond, Chief Executive of Cornwall Development Company said, “We were delighted to be the official event organiser for the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta 2014, on behalf of Cornwall Council. Tall Ships have a long and successful history with Cornwall and to be able to deliver another prestigious international event, on this scale and with such major success, was an honour and a privilege for all involved.”
Suzanne continues, “Cornwall is world renowned for its beauty, culture and heritage and the Regatta brought this into sharp focus. I was there throughout, witnessing Falmouth’s businesses and residents welcoming tens of thousands of visitors, both local and from further field. By enjoying the exciting activities and amazing sights they have all extensively raised Cornwall’s profile and contributed to a significant boost to the local economy.”
Hotels, shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and all kinds of businesses in Falmouth have been busy catering for the tens of thousands who arrived in the town. Peter Fraser, who owns the Harbour Lights fish and chip shop, said in the 14 years he had run the business, this was the busiest period he had ever experienced. “Trade has doubled this week,” he said. “The day of the Red Arrows in Falmouth Week is normally our busiest point of the year, yet the first day of Tall Ships, was even busier than that. We’re anticipating that we’ll go through two tonnes of potatoes, which is ridiculous – but brilliant!”
Many businesses made major preparations in advance. The team behind the Stable restaurant, a pizza, pie and cider establishment pushed hard to ensure that its multi-million pound renovation of Old Custom House, a beautiful Grade II listed columned property with waterside views over Falmouth’s bustling harbour,was ready to open on the eve of the Tall Ships Regatta. Whilst builders and decorators finished their work, the staff team were busy ordering in 12,000 plastic cups and 400 colouring pencils to keep their younger visitors entertained. Co-owner, Andy Briggs, said, “We brought in around 100 ciders especially for the Tall Ships weekend, which includes practically every cider made in Cornwall and we just haven’t stopped. It’s been brilliant and we couldn’t have asked for a better surrounding event for our launch.”
Flick Hewitt is the manager of nearby bar and restaurant 5 Degrees West and he said: “The Tall Ships Regatta has been everything that it was built up to be. We made sure we were ready by expanding our garden to facilitate extra numbers and we’ve brought in a bucket load of extra staff, all of whom have been very much needed.”
And it’s not just businesses that have been happy. Local residents have been feeding back via various channels. Richard Gates, the Falmouth Town Manager, received the following words from Mike and Jen West by email: “Everyone is full of praise for the town management team, the volunteers, the partner organisations, the businesses, each person involved, for putting on such a fantastic show in Falmouth!!
“Four days of happiness and excitement with lots of smiles and goodwill in the crowds. Each day there has been something for everyone. There was the pirate on stilts blowing up balloons for awestruck children; the Marine College with the boat-in-progress; the carousels, dancers, and street vendors; the music in Events Square; the views from the Maritime Museum; and of course the wonderful tall ships themselves to be boarded. Today, watching the panorama unfold from Pendennis Castle, will stay with us for years.”
Mr and Mrs West continued, “The very careful and intricate planning that enabled all this has been more than worthwhile and deserves top awards. We have lived in several other towns and cities in UK but Falmouth stands out as somewhere very special to be – not only for the beaches and watersports – but because the vibrancy and colour, the enterprise, the friendliness, comes when a community works together.”
Falmouth Tall Ships Event Manager Sam Groom said, “We are all extremely interested to hear feedback from everyone involved or effected by the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta 2014. On the whole, we are hearing nothing but praise however there are some constructive suggestions that we are immediately taking on board as we always aim to improve what we do on events of this magnitude. We are encouraging detailed feedback via the official survey and also informal routes.”
Meanwhile the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta Chairman John Hick said, “We are constantly hearing about amazing examples of kindness, generosity and Cornish spirit as well as great figures of brilliant business that have boosted this town and this county as a result of the event. It’s been an incredible amount of work for every single person who has been involved and we just cannot say thank you enough.”