Government commits €4 million for Galway’s Volvo Ocean Race stopover bid

Summer nights — These images by Ronan Palliser evoke memories of what was and get us thinking about what could be again if we win the bid race in March. www.ronanpalliser.ie

Summer nights — These images by Ronan Palliser evoke memories of what was and get us thinking about what could be again if we win the bid race in March. www.ronanpalliser.ie

Galway stands a real chance of again hosting a stopover in the 2010 Volvo Ocean Race, and thereby enjoying a major economic and tourism boost, with the announcement this week that the Government has committed €4 million to support the city’s bid to host a port stopover.

On Tuesday the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen made the announcement. The support is based on the value to tourism and the economic impact of the very successful 2009 event which delivered €55.8 million economic impact on Galway and Ireland and which saw more than 650,000 visits to Galway.

The Government, through Fáilte Ireland, is prepared, subject to appropriate contractual arrangements, and commensurate funding from the private sector, to provide financial support of €4 million towards the 2011/2012 event - should the bid for Galway to be a host port be successful.

The Government’s €4 million commitment has been welcomed by Let’s Do It Global, the umbrella company behind Let’s Do it Galway Ltd, Let’s Do It Green Ltd, and Shamrock Challenger Ltd, which manage a team entry from Ireland in the Volvo Ocean Race and brought the event to Galway originally.

For LDIG the bid process started last year and final submissions for the European stopover were submitted in December 2009.

More than 32 ports originally made submissions and now Galway has been shortlisted, however it is understood that given the success of the last event and now with the Government support, Ireland is well positioned. A final decision on the bid is expected in March.

“We thank the Government for their vision in committing €4 million in these difficult times,” said LDIG chair Enda O’Coineen. “This is the first step in a process, and further funding will have to be sourced from the private sector to secure the event. The bid has not been won at this stage but this solid commitment gives us the basis to work with the people of Galway and the private sector in achieving our goal.”

The news has also been welcomed by Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Frank Fahey, who has been lobbying the Government to support the Galway bid.

“I spoke with Minister Cullen and the Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD about Galway’s case for this funding and I urged them to give Galway’s bid for the stopover the support it deserves,” he said. “The Government strongly supported the 2009 stopover and it was a magnificent success. We are now in different times and there was concern, given the budgetary constraints, that financial support might not be possible on this occasion.”

Dep Fahey said bringing the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway again will be “a multi-million boost” for the entire region. “The tourism it attracted last year was phenomenal and it truly put Galway on an international stage,” he said.

Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who also held talks with An Taoiseach Brian Cowen on the matter, has also welcomed the news.

“If the Lets Do It Global team are successful in securing the stopover bid, it will be a massive boost to the local economy here in Galway and there will be a return to the exchequer of in excess of €55 million,” he said. “From a tourism perspective, there are very few projects that will give Ireland such significant global media exposure and I am delighted that this has been recognised by the Government.”

The 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race will start in Alicante, Spain, in autumn 2011 and is the world’s premier yacht race for professional racing crews.

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