A COUNCIL has scooped a national tourism award for hosting the Tall Ships Races 2010 - one of the most successful events in the town’s history.
Hartlepool Borough Council has been recognised with the Gold Award in the Best Tourism Event of the Year category at the prestigious VisitEngland awards for Excellence 2012, in Leicester, last night.
The council reached the national final after winning last year’s North East Tourism Event of the Year Award.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said he was delighted the town beat off stiff competition from events such as The Grand National.
He said: “It is a major achievement to be recognised in this way and this is testament to all of the hard work by the many organisations and individuals who played their part in making it a success.
“To win Best Tourism Event of the Year against fierce competition such as the Grand National and other major events in Bristol and London demonstrates that Hartlepool is punching above its weight.
“I firmly believe that tall ships was a great event and the profile it brought to the town was unbelievable.
“It put Hartlepool in the international spotlight and boosted our image enormously.”
James Berresford, VisitEngland’s chief executive, said: “The quality of submissions this year has been outstanding and Hartlepool council can justifiably take credit and pride in what they have achieved.”
Hartlepool hosted the final leg of the Tall Ships Races when almost 60 vessels sailed into the town from Kristiansand in Norway in August last year.
A five-day festival followed which attracted an estimated 970,000 visitors to the event, which saw Hartlepool Borough Council team up with PD Ports and Hartlepool Marina to organise it.
An independent survey carried out afterwards showed that each visitor to the event in Hartlepool spent an average of £30.59 which generated £26.5m into the local economy.
The awards’ report said: “The event has generated awareness and publicity for Hartlepool that will reap benefits in the future. Visitor perceptions of Hartlepool have been enhanced and visitors from Tees Valley, the rest of the North East and the rest of the UK have said that they are very likely or likely to return to Hartlepool.”