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Derry Clipper Race Visit Worth £3.5m to Local Business

2nd March 2017
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The Clipper Race has been instrumental in highlighting the waterfront as a major asset in Derry The Clipper Race has been instrumental in highlighting the waterfront as a major asset in Derry

An independent report commissioned by the Clipper Race with a Northern Irish research company into the economic and social impact of last July’s stopover and Foyle Maritime Festival on Derry-Londonderry has revealed the biggest impact of its six-year partnership.

The results, which have been published today, include a record-breaking injection of £3.5 million to local business. Clipper Race CEO William Ward said: “The partnership between the Clipper Race and Derry-Londonderry has always felt incredibly special, but to read this report and hear exactly how the city, and its local community, has benefited both economically and socially, provides a clear and measurable achievement.”

“Whilst Derry-Londonderry may not be on the same geographical scale as other Clipper Race destinations, such as New York, Sydney, and London, its strong community pride and infectious sense of hospitality has consistently made it one the most popular stopovers across all six continents we visit, which makes it one of our biggest success stories in the twenty years of working with global destinations.”

Key findings from the independent report produced by the CARD Group, a Belfast based analysis firm, showed a growth in visitor spend of 16%, a significant increase on the £3 million recorded in 2014, with 83.4% of this directly resulting from the Clipper Race fleet visit.

There was a significant boost to the local hospitality industry. The report found July 2016 was the best performing month for hotel room sales ever recorded in the city, peaking at 97.89% on July 16, the night before the Clipper Race fleet departed Derry-Londonderry. An estimated 22,096 bed nights were purchased during the festival, with average hotel occupancy at 85.55% during the nine days.

The Clipper Race has been instrumental in highlighting the waterfront as a major asset and incorporated the new high quality Foyle Marina pontoons to host the fleet - a major legacy. The 2016 Foyle Maritime Festival, which ran for nine days between July 9-17, included 300 performers, 86 trade stands, and 60 water based activities for public participation over a 1.5 mile long festival zone along the waterfront, and recorded its highest ever festival attendance of 163,576 visitors.

A record 24,960 people visited the festival on the Clipper Race fleet’s departure day on July 17, to wave both their home team and the rest of the twelve strong fleet off in a fitting finale to the third and final fleet visit of the original six-year partnership created around the UK City of Culture 2013. The second highest attended day was July 16, on which the festival’s grand finale event, ‘The Voyage of Sunniva’, took place. The grand finale event concluded with an impressive night parade featuring the Clipper Race fleet and a firework display, orchestrated by local landscape theatre company LUXe.
A quarter of all festival visitors came from outside Northern Ireland, a 25% increase from 2014, fulfilling another partnership objective of increasing tourism levels to the region. 93% of additional visitors stated the inclusion of the Clipper Race had influenced their decision to visit the festival.

There has also been a significant social impact. Two bursary projects named ‘Your Next Chapter’ and ‘Voice of a Community’ aimed at providing life changing experiences for local people who were unemployed or working within the community sector, gave a number of Derry-Londonderry residents a berth on board the Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht for a leg of the Clipper Race. As well as providing a positive experience which helped develop life skills such as confidence, team work and resilience, bursary candidates previously unemployed are now in full-time employment, two within the marine industry.

In terms of boosting global awareness and image, which was a major objective behind the city’s decision to partner with the Clipper Race, 90% of visitors felt the global image of Derry-Londonderry had been improved as a direct result of the festival. The Clipper 2015-16 Race partnership also generated over 3,585 individual media stories about Derry-Londonderry and its Derry~Londonderry~Doire team entry, which finished a best ever second place overall, and reached a unique potential global audience base of 942 million, translating into a PR value of £10.3 million (Source: Kantar Media).

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Hilary McClintock, said: “The Clipper Race has given us an incredible opportunity to welcome visitors from all over the world and it has been fantastic to see Derry-Londonderry profiled in such a positive way on its significant global platform.”

“Once again we have demonstrated our ability to stage an international event generating substantial revenue for the local economy and enhancing the region’s profile as an exciting and unique visitor destination. Thank you to all the local businesses and community members who came together to make this such a memorable experience, both for the city and all those who visited us from afar.”
The original partnership with the Clipper Race officially came to an end in 2016. The Host Ports and Team Partners for the Clipper 2017-18 Race and future editions are currently being negotiated. The next race will depart the UK in August this year.

Published in Clipper Race

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