City on course to catch next wave of €55m Ocean Race
IT was a two-week extravaganza that attracted 650,000 visitors and generated €55m for the local economy.
Now Galway is once again in the running to host a stage of the epic Volvo Ocean Race.
The city was on a shortlist of three to be a host for a European stage of the gruelling race in 2012, it was disclosed last night. But it needs strong government backing if it is to land the lucrative race leg ahead of the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, and Lorient in France.
John Killeen, chairman of 'Let's Do It Galway', which oversaw the successful bid last time, said government support was needed if the race was to come to Galway again.
"The governments of France and Portugal are working hard to get the stopover and we need the Government to give Galway's application its backing.
"All that is needed now is the commitment. The money would not be needed until 2011 or 2012," said Mr Killeen.
It cost about €20m last year to bring the race to Galway and to fund the construction and running costs of the 70-footer Irish entry, the Green Dragon yacht. About €8m came in state funding through Failte Ireland and was mainly used for the Galway stopover. It is expected similar funds would be required again to bring the prestigious race back to Ireland.
An independent consultancy study by Deloitte found the impact of the race was 30pc above initial estimates, with €45m in direct expenditure and €10m in indirect expenditure in Galway and the west.
The race attracted 650,000 spectators to the Galway Harbour race village and Salthill during the fortnight.
Deloitte said even with the economic recession, the Volvo Ocean Race provided an economic spin-off only just behind that generated by the 2006 Ryder Cup, which was valued in direct expenditure at €143m.
The race generated 200,000 bed nights in the area in late May and early June, achieving twice the impact of the Volvo 2008-2009 race stopover in Singapore, the report said.
Last night, Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames said she and her party would be backing the city's bid.
"This is an exceptionally good chance for Ireland," she said.