The economic impact of the Tall Ships returning to Sarnia next summer is expected to be greater than the majestic ships themselves.
Tourism Sarnia-Lambton Special Events Coordinator Vicky Praill said they’re hoping to sell upwards of 100,000 tickets to the weekend festival.
She said the event is sure to provide a huge boost for local restaurants, hotels, and other area businesses.
“With our prediction of at least 35,000 visitors, it would be about a $4 million economic impact. In saying that, no market in the Great Lakes Tall Ships circuit has ever had less than 65,000 visitors, which was Green Bay,” said Praill. “We’re expecting around 100,000, but a break-even venture would be around 35,000.”
Praill said the economic impact of the Great Lakes Tall Ships circuit events from 2001-2016 has generated $191 million.
Sarnia’s festivities will coincide with Bluewater Borderfest and Artzscape next August, which Praill said should bring even more tourists to the city.
“Anytime we can showcase our community it’s an opportunity to get visitors from out of town to enjoy what we have to offer and hopefully either come to visit us again or maybe think of relocating here in the future,” said Praill. “So there’s certainly a lot of different byproducts when you have an event of this calibre coming into your community.”
Praill said they’re capping the number of boarding pass tickets for sale at 5,000 per day, which she said provides a bit of an incentive to buy early.
The last time the Tall Ships Challenge made its way to Sarnia was in 2003.