EASTBOURNE has secured the AEGON International for the next three years, netting up to £18 million from tourism.
Council bosses hope the Wimbledon warm-up tournament will bring top class tennis and a swarm of fans to the town, spending money at hotels, restaurants and shops until 2013.
Stephen Lloyd MP hosted a meeting with key business players in Westminster on Wednesday (January 19) to brainstorm money-making schemes.
Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt told the Herald, “It’s the repeat trade we want to encourage, people who come in from outside the local area. We hope to attract them back to the town.
“We hope they come back, but more importantly it’s putting Eastbourne on the map.
“The event is broadcast through a range of different television channels across the world.”
Christina Ewbank, president of the Eastbourne and District Chamber of Commerce said, “This fantastic news will resonate throughout the tourism sector in Eastbourne.”
Chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association Roger Draper announced the extension of the 37-year-old tournament in Devonshire Park yesterday (Friday).
He said, “The AEGON is really here for two reasons.
“One of these is Eastbourne is a quality venue, one of the best grass court venues in the world and when we talk to the top players in the world, they really do enjoy coming down here.
“Secondly it’s not just about the venue, it’s about the people. We get a fantastic welcome down here from the people of Eastbourne who really love their tennis and who are real tennis connoisseurs.”
The council is currently holding a consultation on proposals to redevelop the entire Devonshire Park site which would include the Winter Garden, Congress Theatre and the Towner.
Councillor Tutt said, “We are at a consultation stage for the whole site and the LTA is a key partner.
“We want to come up with a plan to benefit all of the partners and that includes the residents of Eastbourne.
“It’s about how we can improve this facility for the benefit of all.”
n See Herald opinion on page six, and turn to the back page for an interview with Roger Draper.