The report released today proves in cold, hard terms that the America’s Cup and Ben Ainslie Racing have been a boon to this area – a boon to the tune of £40m.
The racing divided opinion in some quarters, with some left unimpressed. Others may be inclined to dwell on the negative, and point to the fact that this year’s event generated less money – and arguably less interest – than that held in 2015. The figures bear this out; 2016 saw £6.6m in the amount generated, down from £9m the previous year.
The figures for media coverage –reflecting what the coverage would have cost had it been booked as advertising space – were also less, down from £22m to £16.7m, reflecting the smaller scale.
But that’s the wrong way to approach the subject. As Oscar Wilde had it, it is knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The News has consistently argued in favour of the America’s Cup, as we do for all things that we feel will benefit the area, be they music festivals, cultural events or sporting competitions.
And we would say that pictures of our packed seafront, full of people watching the sailing, show that it is something that should be welcomed. We would argue that advertising our city, and showing it is capable of holding world-class events of whatever stripe, is to be encouraged. If the America’s Cup attracted Portsmouth residents, great – it gave them entertainment on their doorstep. If it attracted fans from further away, that’s also great. It’s good for hotels, and it’s good for our reputation.
This economic report, as did last year’s wrap-up, has demonstrated the cold and hard facts behind the economic spur the world series sailing brought us, allied to the ‘soft’ boost of the city being in the spotlight for four days in July.
That there are plans for it to return is to be welcomed. We’re not saying it will make Portsmouth the number one tourist destination in the world, nor are we saying that it will single-handedly revitalise our industry.
But it sure as hell takes us closer to where we want to be – and that is to be celebrated.