Airshow in Great Yarmouth could boost region’s economy by up to £15m

The Red Arrows. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Red Arrows. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A vision to launch a huge seafront air show in Great Yarmouth has been revealed.

Great Yarmouth beach and Britannia Pier PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Great Yarmouth beach and Britannia Pier PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Tourism chiefs have spent the last six months scoping out a four-day festival in 2017, which would see planes soaring over sea off the Golden Mile.

It would be a free festival and the beach would not be fenced off, with the best views from Yarmouth beach and displays also visible from Gorleston cliffs.

Event organiser Asa Morrison has been commissioned by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area (GYTABIA) to investigate whether it would be possible to achieve.

He has spent six months working on the project so far, with early estimates showing a festival would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to stage, and could boost the local and regional economy by up to £15m.

'It's all been very positive,' he said. 'Looking at air shows round the country there's obviously a demand, particularly for seafront air shows.

'They're fantastic and deliver good numbers.'

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Around the country, Bournemouth air show has attracted up to 1.3m visitors, with 800,000 at Eastbourne, 950,000 at Sunderland and 220,000 at Clacton.

Organisers are looking at an event in the June or July of 2017 which would run from Thursday to Sunday.

Mr Morrison stressed that the event was still in the early stages of consultation.

He approached a number of businesses to ask whether people thought an air show would be a good idea, and said the responses were largely positive.

'People are saying that the town really needs this,' he said. 'It would be absolutely huge.

'Yarmouth has done big events before; this is probably just the biggest it would have done.

'We had a phenomenal amount of support.'

There were a few 'sceptics' who questioned whether the town could afford to host an air show, but the GYTABIA was 'incredibly keen'.

He looked at previous large Yarmouth events such as Pop Beach and the Radio One Roadshow, as well as the annual Martitime Festival, for guidance.

But he said an air festival would be different to events like Pop Beach as it would appeal to people of all ages.

He said staging the event looked achievable, and a flight display director had been appointed.

This director is from a firm that runs air shows full time, and staff have already conducted a site visit in Great Yarmouth and given it the green light from a technical perspective.

'The town would get the biggest event in East Anglia,' said Mr Morrison. 'This can work if everyone works together to make it happen.

'The community and businesses of Great Yarmouth have got to want an airshow and our initial consultation suggests this is the case.'

Mr Morrison is currently working on budget planning, an infrastructure plan, traffic management and a visitor plan.

Details like what planes would come to Yarmouth would be made much later in the process.

'It's whether it's possible, whether it's financially viable, and so far it's been positive,' he said. 'We need to get over a number of hurdles to make sure we've got a robust financial plan in place as we don't want to be running an unviable event.'

The modelling is for three festivals over three years, with the first in 2017.

Barry Coleman, vice chairman of GYTABIA, said: 'We're looking at several groundbreaking projects and this is by far the biggest and most exciting, but it comes with the biggest risks and the final decision won't be made for several months.'