The finances behind the town’s most popular event

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Airbourne is well known to bring a huge economic boost to the town, but this week the Herald reveals the figures behind the free four-day event.

This year’s airshow had some spectacular flying displays – with the Red Arrows taking centre stage on all four day.

However, all this comes at a cost and this week Eastbourne Borough Council told the Herald the budgeted net cost was £378,650 expenditure to stage the show. Budgeted income projection was £310,500, meaning a net cost of £77,150 to Eastbourne Borough Council.

Final figures on this year’s show have not been released but the final cost in 2012 was £126,746.

The council picks up the shortfall in its events budget of £177,150 which is agreed by cabinet and full council as part of the service and financial planning process.

A council spokesperson said Airbourne is run each year as a marketing excersise and added, “At least one in ten are new visitors to Eastbourne, particularly families who make up 50 per cent of the audience.

“It helps to change the image towards a vibrant younger resort – a third of visitors are under 35.

“It is also about raising the towns profile and as a result of the show Eastbourne has appeared in various national newspapers and magazines.

“Plus it boosts staying visitors in hotels and restaurants.”

Darren Weir, Eastbourne Hospitality Association vice chairman, said, “Some of the hotels were busy with regular Airbourne guests.

“Some hotels were busy with those who were unaware the airshow was on but they had a pleasant surprise when they arrived.

“Airbourne undoubtedly increases beds in Eastbourne each year. It is a huge PR opportunity and shows Eastbourne at its very best.”

In 2008, Eastbourne Borough Council tried to finance the event by charging spectators £5 . Residents were furious and the decision led to a massive decrease in visitor number and a black hole in the council budget of £380,000. Since then it has been a free event and bucket collectors take to the seafront to collect donations..

Last year’s bucket collections made a total of £30,000.

This year’s collection is still being collated and donations are still rolling in. As the Herald went to press £25,000 has been counted with more to come.

Additional income is also generated from the sale of programmes. Figures for the sale of this year’s programme, which sold for £3, has not yet been totalled. However, the council told the Herald 12,118 programmes were sold in 2012.