Tall Ships event 'great for whole county'
Two key members of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta organising team have expressed their delight at how well it is going so far.
And they have set out how important the four-day event is for other parts of Northumberland following an excellent first day.
Tens of thousands of people have already visited Blyth to see the 23 majestic ships in place ahead of the start of the latest race on Monday.
They have also enjoyed a range of entertainment and activities at the port, as well as in the Market Place, Dun Cow Quay, Ridley Park and by Blyth beach.
David Hall, of one of the event sponsors Northumbrian Water, is also chairman of Northumberland Tourism and Active Northumberland.
He said: "When you look at the visitor numbers from yesterday, I think it was approaching 100,000 across the whole day and I'm confident of reaching half a million by the end of the event, which will provide a boost for the county's tourism economy of between Â£5million and Â£10million.
"Many businesses in Northumberland are benefiting form the regatta. For example, I know that bakers based in Morpeth and Alnwick are supplying products.
"Visitors have been complimentary about the breadth of activities available as well as the space provided for the ships.
"This event is good for other towns and villages that rely heavily on tourism as hotels and B&Bs further up the coast are reporting that there aren't many beds left.
"The legacy will hopefully be that people will come back to Northumberland having been impressed with what they have seen this weekend and a boost for sailing in the county, particularly for its yacht clubs."
He added that a number of tourist attractions in the county have set-up information displays and stalls in Ridley Park using donated freight containers.
Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at the county council, said: "There is something for everyone at the event and the way it's laid out means it's very accessible whether you are able bodied or not.
"Everyone I've spoken to so far has nothing but praise for how it's being organised.
"It took a lot of hard work by many people to bring the event to Northumberland and the key message we're putting across is that this will benefit the whole county.
"Many people are taking the opportunity to visit some of our other towns and villages this weekend and the trainees who will be involved in the race are from all over Northumberland, with councillors support them through their members small schemes fund.
"One councillor chipped in to help fund two bus loads of young people from the Tyne Valley to come along and that's important because we want to encourage people in the west of the county to visit the south east and vice versa.
"It's great that the Port of Blyth has been so supportive and the activities have not curtailed any of its operations. Everyone is working together to make sure the event is a huge success.
The ships will start the race to Gothenburg, Sweden, on Monday. The distance is approximately 600 nautical miles.
A parade of the crews this afternoon will start at 3pm and race chairman James Stevens said they were getting excited for the week ahead at a Captain's Dinner event at Alnwick Castle last night.
He added: "It's very obvious that the town of Blyth has really got into the occasion and people I've spoken to are very enthusiastic about the Tall Ships.
"Day one was great and I'm sure it will be an excellent weekend. Hopefully, there will be a bit of wind on Monday when the race starts.
"The crews will take it very seriously and the responsibilities they will have will bring them together."