The world-famous Tall Ships race will not return Aberdeen for at least another five years – after council chiefs failed to apply to host it.
Their potential arrival was greeted with joy in November when the city council announced they were looking to bring the event to the city within the next three years.
But a report to the authority’s finance committee reveals the deadline for applying has passed.
That means the soonest the ships could return to the Granite City is now 2022.
Some 500,000 visitors flocked to welcome the spectacular vessels when they last docked in Aberdeen in 1997, boosting the local economy by about £13million.
Last night business and tourism chiefs branded the news “disappointing”.
Organised by Sailing Training International (STI), the race aims to boost training for young people from across the globe in the art of sailing.
They are held annually in European waters and consists of two racing legs of several hundred nautical miles.
The 2017 list of cities they will visit is made up of Halmstad, Sweden; Kotka, Finland; Turku, Finland; Klaipeda, Lithuania; and Szczecin, Poland.
The report says that the event could cost around £3million based on the what it cost Sunderland.
It adds: “The earliest Regatta event being 2020 but the deadline for this has passed, with Tall Ships Race event bids going live in March 2018 for a 2022 event.”
Opposition SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said: “Nobody will be surprised to learn that despite the fanfare last year the Labour and Tory administration have completely missed the boat on this one.
“This chronic failure will take the wind right out of their sails.”
But council finance convener Willie Young said the council remained “absolutely committed” to bringing the ships to the city at some stage.
He added that ambitious plans for a £1 a night tax on tourists staying in hotels in Aberdeen, currently under consideration, was “needed” to bring events of this kind to the city.
He said: “Over the next three years we have a really great events programme coming to the city from the Aberdeen run to the Spectra festival.
“I hope the SNP will now come out and support our tourism levy which will provide the city with what it needs to bring events like this to the city.
“I think the Tall Ships will put Aberdeen on the map when they come.
“Unfortunately it won’t be in this cycle of events. But it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. “Getting things like the Scottish Open to Trump International would bring huge benefits to the region.”
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Source : Aberdeen Journals