Ocean race stopover in Galway worth €55m to local economy


THE VOLVO Ocean Race’s first ever Irish stopover in Galway in May was worth €55 million to the west of Ireland, according to an independent consultancy study due to be published today.

The impact was 30 per cent above initial estimates by consultants Deloitte LLP, with €45 million in direct expenditure and €10 million in indirect expenditure in Galway and the west.

The event attracted a total of 650,000 spectators to the Galway harbour race village and Salthill promenade during the fortnight.

The spend by spectators and media was twice that recorded at other stopover ports on the round-the-world race.

The study by Deloitte shows that in spite of the economic recession, the Volvo race ranks third in terms of spin-off generated by major sporting events in Ireland in recent years – exceeded only by the 2006 Ryder Cup, which was valued in direct expenditure at €143 million, and the Six Nations rugby tournament in 2008, valued at €57 million.

The study says that the event generated some 200,000 bed nights in the area in late May and early June. It had greater impact than the Royal Ascot, York race meet in 2005, the Open Golf championships in Scotland in 2006, and twice the impact of the Volvo 2008-9 race stopover in Singapore, the consultants say.

An analysis of spectator identity indicates that some 52 per cent were from the region, and 17 per cent from elsewhere in Ireland, with 2 per cent being Irish visitors who extended stays to see the race.

Some 8 per cent were international visitors travelling specifically for the race, and 10 per cent international visitors who extended a stay. Some 11 per cent of the total were classified as “non-local” and due in the area regardless of the event.

Among a total estimate of 87,000 visitors to the west for the race, 43 per cent were from Continental Europe, 19 per cent from Britain, 17 per cent from Northern Ireland, 11 per cent from North America, 5 per cent from Australasia and 5 per cent from elsewhere.

Actual spend per head was low compared with initial estimates but the study attributes this to the recession and to reduced levels of corporate hospitality as a result of same.

The race was given €8 million in Government sponsorship through Fáilte Ireland, some €2 million of which went to the Irish entry, Green Dragon.

The Galway Harbour Company invested €800,00 in removing oil tanks and cleaning up the area, and installing moorings.

The report quotes the harbour company as believing that the event will have significantly altered public perceptions in support for its new port development plan, due to be submitted for planning by the end of the year.

Galway City Council provided €2 million in direct or “in kind” support, while the Let’s Do It Galway consortium spent €4 million locally. Some €1.8 million was spent by visiting teams.

The race organisation was supported by large numbers of volunteers, co-ordinated through NUI Galway, and 10,000 schoolchildren were given tours of the race village.

Galway is bidding for a return visit of the race, formerly known as the Whitbread, but is one of 15 European ports so doing.

The Green Dragonhas been assessed for possible re-use, as a stopover port status is dependent on a boat entry.