Some cities just ‘get’ the importance that hosting major events has on the economy, tourism and helping to win further bids, based on experience gained through the bidding process and the delivery of those events.
Cardiff in Wales is one of those cities. Cardiff has hosted everything from Olympic football, to world class Rugby and even the Ashes! But the city is about more than the Millennium Stadium. Like many major population areas on the coast, Cardiff has a strong maritime history and the redevelopment of waterfront in a way that makes the residents of the city face the sea instead of away from it requires an event or two to make people take notice. The Extreme Sailing Series was staged in Cardiff for the first time in 2012.
The Volvo Ocean Race has announced that Cardiff will be a stopover in the 2017-18 edition. It is a welcome return to the UK for the race and the first time the event will visit Wales.
The Whitbread Round the World Race began in England in 1973 and the headquarters were based in England until 2010 before moving to Alicante. The last time the UK had a stopover was in 2005-06 in Portsmouth. While the Volvo Ocean Race is seeking out new markets for sailing, the organisers realise that there is a significant pool of sailors and fans in the UK that need to be kept onside. This is one of the reasons that Cardiff was chosen.
Volvo Ocean Race COO, Tom Touber said:
The UK was on our target list. I must admit that after not being in the UK for 10 years, it was about time to come back. So what options do you have? There is the south coast and there are also ports all the way up in the north, but a we need a deep water port, a good venue and most of all, a commitment from the local people to deliver a great event. I think we have found all these ingredients in Cardiff.
Edwina Hart, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science in the Welsh Government said:
I’m really looking forward to a global audience looking at Cardiff and Wales. It will be great publicity and it should really help us on the tourism front. Such global coverage is very important to us.
As a government we are fully committed to this project. From Ashes tests to the Ryder Cup, which was a great achievement for us, these events are good economics – in terms of the payback from visitors and showcasing a vibrant city and a vibrant nation which is good for us. The figures vary, but we expect a payback of tens of millions of pounds.
The fact that this event is sailing is important as well. Sailing is a good activity and we are anxious in Wales to encourage young people to use the natural environment, whether it be for sailing or other things. The stopover will be very positive and will line up with government policy in this area.
The stopover will be supported by Associated British Ports (ABP), who will contribute the land and other infrastructure for the event. Callum Couper, Deputy Port Manager, South Wales commented:
Although we are a private business and our main focus is cargo, we like to be able to assist the local authority and the government with handling major events. This event goes hand-in-glove with the port facilities and it also helps us to ensure we are being good corporate citizens.
The announcement breaks the recent pattern of announcing two-edition deals for the Volvo Ocean Race. The route for the 2014/15 race is still to be finalised with decisions still to be made between cities in the ‘gaps’.