Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed on Tuesday that the international Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will return to the city in 2018 and the final consultation process is now underway.
Members of the Business and Culture Committee approved a motion this afternoon to form a new partnership agreement between Council and the Clipper Race, to acquire the status of Host Port during the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, which is due to begin in August this year.
Welcoming the agreement, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, said she was delighted that the wheels have been set in motion to see the return of the international event to the City region.
She said: “This announcement is the result of ongoing discussions between Council and key stakeholders to build on the international profile acquired by the award winning Foyle Maritime Festival. Council has given a commitment to host a major maritime themed festival on a bi-annual basis to build on the legacy of the Clipper Race partnership over the past six years and we are delighted to be a designated port for this global event. During its last three races, the event allowed us to drive the visitor and tourism economy of the North West forward attracting both local and global audiences to our city and region.”
John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council, says the return of the Clipper Race to the city and region is in keeping with the Council’s commitment to investment in events, and a strategy to position the city and region as a world class destination for visitors and investors alike.
“The global stature of the race will enable council officers to work with key stakeholders from within the statutory and private sectors to leverage funding and sponsorship that will ensure the delivery of another successful event worthy of the international profile it will attract,” he said.
Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said that two independent evaluations of the Foyle Maritime Festival and race stopover were commissioned by Tourism Northern Ireland and the Clipper Race. These identified a range of positive economic outcomes that evidence year on year growth of the stopover in terms of its profile, appeal and the economic benefit it brings to the city.
She explained: “The hugely successful nine-day Foyle Maritime Festival, which was built around the Clipper Race stopover last July, attracted a record footfall of 163,576 attendees with international visitors accounting for as much as thirty per cent of those who visited the city.
“Over 22,096 bed nights were purchased during the event, establishing July 2016 as the best performing month for room sales ever recorded in the city. Two thirds of visitors stated that the Clipper Race was a primary reason for visiting the festival, and evaluations report a record breaking £3.5 million boost to the local economy in July 2016 with an average return on investment of £2.36 for every £1 invested by Derry City and Strabane District Council and their festival partners. This is the success that Council now wants to sustain and build on going forward and we are very pleased to be involved in this new partnership.”
The ‘LegenDerry’ stopover reached iconic status in 2015-16 edition of the Clipper Race, when it was acknowledged among the international crews as one of the most anticipated stopovers of the race with Leg 8, the leg that includes Foyle Port stopover, selling out first despite the profile and magnitude of many other designated host ports.
Clipper Race CEO William Ward said: “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.”
The Clipper 2017-18 Race stopover and subsequent Foyle Maritime Festival will take place in July 2018, however exact dates for the event can’t be confirmed before July this year as the logistics for the race are still being calculated.
Once today’s decision has been ratified at a meeting of Full Council later this month, Council officers will work closely with local businesses throughout the city and region for the 2018 stopover, following the highly successful initiatives that were delivered with local businesses for the 2016 festival and positive feedback received.