Published: Wednesday, 2nd August 2017

More than 800,000 people visited Woolwich and Greenwich for Tall Ships Festival 2017.

The four-day Easter family festival was a hit with visitors with 95 per cent of those surveyed describing the atmosphere as good or better and almost half saying it was better than expected. Nearly nine out of ten had travelled to the borough specifically to attend the Tall Ships Festival 2017 event.

Thumbs up from the Tall Ships visitors

The survey results also revealed 96 per cent of visitors agreed that the free Tall Ships Festival 2017 was a good thing for Royal Greenwich and 83 per cent agreed that it encouraged local people to see it as a good place to live.

94 per cent thought the festival was a good way of helping local businesses and 92 per cent thought it was a good way of increasing pride in the local area.

A positive impact on local business

Two thirds of businesses said the event had a positive impact, with a third extending their opening hours to maximise trade. Almost half of businesses said they had an increase in customers and over half had an increase in turnover.

Almost two thirds of businesses agreed that the event was a good source of new business. And nearly nine out of ten said the Council was good at keeping businesses informed about opportunities to get involved.

Local sail trainees sailed to Portugal

Residents snapped up 1,000 discounted tickets to visit ships in Greenwich and over 50 local youngsters were selected as Tall Ships Sail Trainees and spent 15 nights on board a Tall Ship during the first leg to Sines in Portugal.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich was host port for the start of the international Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. The fleet went on to visit Portugal, Bermuda and Boston before arriving in Quebec in July.

'It gives you new life experience'

Cathal Hegarty, 18, enjoyed his time on the Blue Clipper so much that he was one of two trainees who remained on board during the second stage to Las Palmas.

"It gives you a new take on life being out in the middle of nowhere and having to navigate," he said. "It gives you new life experience."

Ravensbourne College student Chris Williamson was chosen as a helmsman for the Christian Radich which involved steering the ship for two hours a day, and he loved the experience.

"I went onto the boat not knowing anything about sailing whatsoever," he admitted. "And I finished knowing what every rope on the ship did, steering the ship and coming second in a race."

Fellow Ravensbourne College student Rebecca Winkler was also on board the Christian Radich. "If I got the chance to do it again I absolutely would," the 21-year-old said. "I would totally recommend it to anyone. Even if you're scared of what it might entail, do it because it was the most amazing experience."

'Strengthen our international standing and boost tourism'

Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald, Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative Industries and Wellbeing, said: "I'm delighted that so many visitors enjoyed Tall Ships Festival 2017. The event was a fantastic celebration of Royal Greenwich's continuing rich maritime heritage and brought hundreds of thousands of people to see the ships in the borough.

"It undoubtedly helped strengthen our international standing and boost tourism which has knock-on economic benefits for residents and local businesses.

"I am particularly proud that working with our official Charity Partners Sea Cadets and Seafarers UK enabled us to give 50 young people an opportunity of a lifetime through our Tall Ships Sail Trainee programme."