Derry & Strabane Council has vowed to make the Foyle Maritime Festival part of its future Events Strategy and to explore the possibility of further collaborations with the Clipper Round The World Race.
The Council has estimated that around £6m will be generated by this year’s festival and participation in the Clipper race, with a return of around £5 for every £1 invested.
Confirmation that the Maritime Festival is to be retained comes following a massive turn out for the festivities over the past week, with tens of thousands more expected to gather during the final three days this weekend.
There had been some concerns expressed this week that the Council may opt out of hosting the Clipper fleet or fielding a yacht, as its three-race contract is coming to an end.
The Maritime Festival has evolved out of the Clipper partnership events stretching back to 2011/12.
The Council said the festival has generated a significant economic spin-off for Derry’s hospitality and retail sector, increased tourism and helped put the city on the map internationally.
When asked about future Clipper and Maritime events, a spokesperson for the Council told the ‘Journal’ yesterday: “Council has a very strong and positive working relationship with Clipper Ventures that is focused on sharing the benefits of the race and the profile it brings by working closely to showcase our city and region. The Council is delighted to have been included in this prestigious race and to have our city’s name travel the length and breadth of the world telling our story.
“Any plans to be involved in any future races with Clipper Ventures is a matter for members of Derry City and Strabane District Council to discuss and decide. Council will continue to work closely with Clipper Ventures with regard to this race and to explore any future opportunities that may arise.
“Council’s main priority moving forward is to continue to promote our maritime offering and to include the Foyle Maritime Festival in our Festival and Events Strategy.”
The Council said it had committed a maximum of £1.2m for the current and 2013/14 dual Clipper Race proposal.
“This includes the participation of a Derry~Londonderry yacht in the 2013/14 and 2015/16 race and a stopover destination for a maritime festival and celebratory event in July 14 and 16,” the spokeswoman said, adding: “This year’s event hosting will cost in the region of £530,000 with £249,000 from Tourism NI, £195,000 of which is for the festival overall and £54,000 additional towards the delivery of the finale event Voyage of Sunniva, other significant support from Foyle Port and other partners and sponsors. TNI provides £8k for Flavours of the Foyle elements of Clipper Kitchens; DAERA NI Regional Agri Food Programme £26,505 ; Loughs Agency £1,000.”
Speaking on the return this will generate, she said: “Derry City and Strabane District Council firmly believes that the event will create a return of £5 for every £1 invested into the local economy to generate over £6m for the local economy.
“The Council believes that it is committed to work to maximise the reach to the global audiences that follow the race and increase the levels of positive media we have already received.”
Highlights of the Foyle Maritime Festival programme for this weekend will include ‘The Voyage of Sunniva’- a major, free outdoor production- running from 8pm to 11pm along the quayside and with a fireworks finale. On Sunday, the Clipper fleet will stage a majestic parade of Sail before heading to Greencastle for the next stage of the round the world race.