One year to go — July 2012 can shape Galway for the next decade

Just one year from now, Galway city will be an even more happening, buzzing place than it normally is, because the eyes of the world will be thrust upon us as we prepare to host the end of the Volvo Ocean Race. The harbour will be full of impressive vessels, hotel space will be as scarce as hens’ teeth as the cream of world sailing come to the very edge of Europe for the the conclusion of a race that has fallen in love with Galway. World media organisations will not need the usual excuses to come here and Galway will once again be the envy of the country.

That July promises to be a really special month. Not alone will we have the hundreds of thousands of visitors,, but the event will be quickly followed by the Film Fleadh, the Arts Festival and the Races, so a lot will be demanded of the city authorities to keep Galway looking as well as it can.

Two years ago, there was the distraction of the oil tanks saga to occupy the minds of the organisers in the build up to the event, but there is nothing like that this time around, Now, Galway has a clear run at an event which should see the city and county through at least another two years of this current economic crisis. If we approach this correctly, the conclusion of the Volvo Ocean Race will be the economic and cultural manna from heaven that every city in the country would give its right arm to catch.

Now it is time for the business interests in the city and county to explore the opportunities that this event will present and make sure that Galway is well positioned to benefit from it.

The organisers have done the hard work in winning the right to hold the race — now it is up to everyone else to make sure that we benefit from this experience and showcase Galway to a global audience.

The local authorities must also ensure that they stay focused over the next year on ensuring that things get done in Galway. This is a year that if it is productive, will lay the seeds from which we will benefit for many years.

This day next year, the city will be a sea of colour as almost 7,000 corporate guests make their way here for the conclusion of the race. This is the business end of the event, where one boat will be crowned winner, cueing celebrations for that team and their millionaire backers.

In a week’s time, Let’s Do it Global will be hosting a One Year To Go party in the Galway Bay Hotel, at which the countdown to the event will begin. The actual race starts this autumn but the arrival in Galway will not be until early July 2012, just a month before the Olympic Games commences in London.

With the exposure that the VOR will give Galway, there is a real opportunity for Olympic tourists to be wowed by the West of Ireland and our tourism marketing campaigns should reflect that.

Already the city’s media are working together with the race organisers to ensure that the city stays on message, so that Galway gets the most it can out of the race, and racegoers get as much as they can out of the Galway experience.

The success of this event has the ability to positively shape the next decade for Galway. it is incumbent on all of us to ask what part we can play in ensuring all of this comes to fruition.

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