A new report from the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway reveals that the Volvo Ocean Race Finale (VOR ) which took place in Galway city earlier this year, having hosted a stopover for the Race in 2009, was worth €60.5 million to the Irish economy. More than 500,000 visitors attended events during the festival period from June 30 to July 8 2012, with 16 per cent of those coming from outside of Ireland.
The 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race lasted for nine months and covered 39,270 nautical miles. The boats circumnavigated the globe, visiting eight stopover ports before finishing in Galway. The participants sailed through four oceans and visited ports in five continents, making it the toughest sailing event in the world. Hundreds of thousands of spectators visited the race villages in the participating ports, while millions tuned in via numerous media channels.
The report, An Economic Assessment of the Volvo Ocean Race Finale, Galway 2012, takes an in-depth scientific examination of the economic impact of the event in Galway over the nine day period. It also reports on the extra-economic benefits of the VOR finale which saw an investment by organisers and Galway City of €7.6 million.
Speaking of the findings, Dr Patrick Collins of NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute said: “For nine days and nights, Galway city became the focal point of one of the most highly regarded international sporting events, supported by over 275 free events around the city. The magnitude of the event in terms of the relatively small economy of the Galway area was exceptional.”
For the duration of the event the harbour area of Galway city was transformed into a hub of activity in both the commercial and entertainment spheres. The addition of the ‘Global Village’, a unique expo highlighting the best of Irish business, education and craft, brought a new feel and focus to the event. The hosting of showcases under the pillars of marine, innovation, green and food, was a platform for the city and the region to display its unique strengths.
The report, which was launched on Monday at NUI Galway, identifies key questions on the event’s economic impact. Findings reveal the direct expenditure of €35.5 million and indirect spend during the festival period of €25 million giving an overall economic impact of €60.5 million.
The hospitality industries gained the most in terms of relative increase in revenue. In particular the bar/lounge sector enjoyed a significant boost over the course of the event with turnover showing a 50 per cent increase across the sector. However, a quarter of local businesses found their business was negatively affected by the Race as most of the economic benefit was located in the areas surrounding the event and particularly by the hospitality industries.
Dr Patrick Collins explains: “What becomes immediately obvious when we look at the relative change in turnover spatially is the tight geography of benefit. What might be termed the ‘honey-pot’ effect of the race and Global villages are obvious with adjacent businesses in particular sectors gaining extra revenue. Revenue gains were highly differentiated by location and business sector. ”
Positive employment figures showed an increase in numbers employed over the course of the event, with over 70 per cent of these in the hospitality industry and more than 80 per cent of this located in Galway city centre. However, these employment gains were of a temporary nature - of those hired on a full or part-time basis, 42 per cent were for the duration of the festival only, and only seven per cent of the new employees lasting beyond a three month period.
The report states that approximately 800,000 visits were recorded to the Race Village and the Global Village over the duration of the Volvo Ocean Race festival and 97 per cent of these race attendees rated their Galway experience as positive.
According to Dr Emer Mulligan, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway: “The Volvo Ocean Race finale focused the attention of a global audience of over one billion on the city of Galway for the duration of the event. This kind of attention brings with it massive opportunities for the promotion of the city and its businesses.”
Extra economic impacts examined and included in the report include results on how businesses and attendees during the Volvo Ocean Race Finale also cited non-economic aspects of the festival. More than 1,500 volunteers took part in the organisation of the Volvo Ocean Race finale in Galway. They contributed thousands of hours to cater for more than 500,000 visitors to the nine-day event.
Dr Mulligan added: “Looking beyond the economic helps us identify the ancillary benefits and costs of hosting an international event of this scale. Economic impact events of this magnitude are significant but it is incumbent on any assessment to incorporate the extra economic impacts such as boost of morale for the host city and the upsurge of community spirit experienced by all. While the commercial emphasis was obvious, the event did not lose the key element which was held most precious during the 2009 stopover, the family-friendly community spirit.”
The report was compiled by Dr Patrick Collins, Dr Stephen Hynes and Dr Emer Mulligan of NUI Galway on behalf of Let’s Do It Global.