'We can benefit for years to come' - Hartlepool MP's reaction to Tall Ships Races return
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has welcomed the return of the Tall Ships Races to town as a platform to “put us firmly on the tourism map”.
Hartlepool Borough Council, backed by The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool Marina, port operator PD Ports and the Tees Valley Combined Authority, last week learned that it had succeeded in its bid to host the prestigious international event in 2023.
The announcement followed just days after areas of the town were included in the forthcoming Teesside Freeport, potentially attracting jobs and development through tax relief packages, in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget.
Mike Hill, Hartlepool’s Labour MP, has now said: “The prospect of the tall ships returning to Hartlepool in 2023 is fantastic news and will help boost the local economy at precisely the time it will be needed post Covid.
"It also comes off the back of major regeneration proposals around the freeport and other initiatives aimed at giving the town a boost and a new lease of life.”
Tens of thousands of people thronged Hartlepool Marina and the town centre when Hartlepool last hosted the races for four days in 2010.
While the event generated an estimated £26.5m for the local economy, there were complaints that there were too many vendors from out of the area and that the town failed to build on the occasion’s legacy.
Hartlepool Borough Council leader Councillor Shane Moore has already insisted that there will be no repeated of “those mistakes” of 11 years ago when the authority was left with an unexpected shortfall of £720,000 following lower than expected demand for park-and-ride facilities and official merchandise.
Mr Hill said: "The last time the tall ships came the event was a huge success and drew visitors to the town from far and wide.
"There is no doubt that the same will happen again in 2023, but this time we need to use it as a platform to develop long term strategies to increase visitor footfall and put us firmly on the tourism map.
"We are a welcoming place with lots to offer all year round and if we get it right this time around we can benefit for years to come.”