One of the sessions at the World Yacht Racing Forum, which we haven’t covered in detail yet, focussed on the economic returns to venues of hosting sailing events. Yacht racing is lucky to be seen by tourism authorities as being able to bring attention and visitors to a place. But racing on its own might not be enough to bring the crowds. Combining events together helps to maximise the investment in promotion and infrastructure as well as expose sailing to a wider audience.
Selling a visitor experience is different to running events where the competitors are the only stakeholders considered.
Auckland is a city where sailing is as recognised as other sports. The city has invested heavily in developing the waterfront which is home to the country’s America’s Cup team. There is also a sense that relevant government agencies, investors and the sport all work together to create events that deliver the most return for all stakeholders.
Against this background, Auckland Mayor John Banks has announced the Auckland Festival of Sail – three major international regattas to be held on the Waitemata Harbour in March 2010. Mr Banks says:
“Not only is this great news for Aucklanders with another festival added to the summer events calendar, it’s also great news for businesses, especially those in the hospitality, tourism and marine sectors. Major events are important economic drivers especially during the tough times that we are currently experiencing. Securing this festival in Auckland is another step on our road to establishing the city as a desirable international events destination and we look forward to welcoming the world’s best sailors to our shores next year.”
The managing director of Emirates Team New Zealand Grant Dalton said the three regattas, combined with the Auckland International Boat Show, will provide three weeks of top-level action right in the city.
“When the idea of the Auckland Festival of Sail was first raised, many groups came together to really put on a show for Auckland and New Zealand. We have worked closely with Auckland City agencies, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Louis Vuitton, the World Sailing Teams Association and many other organisations and individuals to make it happen.
Scott Colebrook, commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, says the Squadron is proud to be undertaking an integral role in the Auckland Festival of Sail.
“As the organizing authority of these three significant events, running back to back, we will be placing huge demands on our volunteer race and boat management personnel and resources. With assistance from Bucklands Beach Yacht Club we look forward to our contribution to this marvellous combination of high profile regattas featuring the world’s best yachtsmen and teams that will showcase our City of Sails to an international audience.”
We’ll be writing up the discussion around venues from the WYRF in the next couple of days.