The City of Turku has been selected as one the hosting ports of the Tall Ships Races event in 2021. The selection highlights the maritime role of the City of Turku as a strong city of events and producer of experiences. Also the regional economic effects of the event and the impact on tourism are significant and long-standing.

The City of Turku has been selected as one the hosting ports of the Tall Ships Races event in 2021. On Monday 25 May, Turku City Board decided that Turku will sign the host port contract with The Tall Ships Races International Ltd (owner of the event’s rights) and prepare for costs of 110,000 euros in 2020 and an appropriation of 1,971,960 euros in the budget for 2021.

The selection highlights the maritime role of the City of Turku as a strong city of events and producer of experiences. Also the regional economic effects of the event and the impact on tourism are significant and long-standing. The Tall Ships Races event strengthens the position and competitiveness of Turku and the archipelago as one of the main tourist regions in Finland. The actual event takes place in Turku between 5 July and 8 July 2021.

The Tall Ships Races is the biggest public event of summer 2021, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to attend. The event is also the culmination of the 10th anniversary of Turku’s year as the European Capital of Culture.

- An event like the Tall Ships Races, created for the whole family, builds faith in the future and has an increased significance now during the state of emergency caused by coronavirus. The considerable positive regional economic effects of the sailing vessel event are also largely directed to the very sectors that are currently most harmed by the coronavirus pandemic, stresses Deputy Mayor Jarkko Virtanen, chairman of the steering group for the event in Turku.

The Tall Ships Races event organised in Turku in 2017 had 544,000 visitors, setting the record of sailing vessel events arranged by Turku. Also the target for 2021 is half a million visitors. The objective is realistic because the public is already familiar with the outstanding arrangements of the sailing vessel events held in Turku and the extraordinary atmosphere on the side of the River Aura. Naturally, the objective may change in accordance with how the corona epidemic situation allows for organising the event in the desired scale.

The event is organised in the Baltic Sea Region approximately every four years. In the event in 2021, the hosting cities in competition order are Klaipeda (Lithuania), Turku, Tallinn (Estonia), Mariehamn and Szczecin (Poland). This will be the sixth time for Turku to act as a hosting port. At the same time, Turku is also the city that hast hosted most Tall Ships Races events in the entire Baltic Sea Region.

As St. Petersburg, originally selected as a hosting port, withdrew from the contest, Turku had an opportunity to become involved. Normally, hosting ports are selected approximately three years before the actual event. This means that Turku has significantly less time to react to event arrangement needs than the other cities.

- Thanks to previous experience, Turku has been able to perfect the port services, programme concept, crew services as well as public and business sector opportunities needed for the sailing vessel event, Deputy Mayor Virtanen summarises.

Large masses of public have a significant financial impact

A survey on the spending of visitors in the Tall Ships Races events demonstrates that grand events have a significant financial impact on the organising cities. The survey of Sponsor Insight Oy in October 2017 demonstrated that the event had regional economic effects worth of approximately 36 to 40 million euros. The total was divided so that 14 to 16 million euros were spent in connection with the event itself and city visitors spent an additional 22 to 24 million euros during it.

In 2017, the Tall Ships Races event expanded to the eastern bank of the River Aura more prominently than before and the public was evenly spread on both sides of the river.

- The development work of riverbanks continues intensively. The focus of the city centre continues to shift towards the downstream of the River Aura along the construction work in the areas of Itäranta, Linnakaupunki and Kakolanmäki. Turku is increasingly becoming a maritime city, states Deputy Mayor Virtanen.

The Tall Ships Races event strengthens the image of Turku as a significant organiser of maritime events. The results of the visitor survey conducted after the sailing vessel event in 2017 speak for themselves; 97 percent of respondents who had visited the event in Turku found it fairly or very good and 96 percent of them would recommend the event to others. The highest marks were given for the event areas, safety, order supervision and particularly atmosphere.

Anniversaries celebrated in the summer of 2021

Year 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of Turku’s first time as a hosting port for the event. Moreover, the year marks the 10th anniversary of Turku’s year as the European Capital of Culture. In 2021, Tallinn takes part for the first time in organising the Tall Ships Races. Turku and Tallinn both celebrate their 10th anniversary as European Capitals of Culture.

Turku has previously acted as a hosting port as follows:

  • 1996 The Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Races
  • 2003 The Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Races
  • 2009 The Tall Ships’ Races
  • 2011 The Culture 2011 Regatta (a special regatta during Turku’s year as the European Capital of Culture)
  • 2017 The Tall Ships Races 

Images: The Tall Ships Races Turku 2017 (images: Hannu Waher)