OLYMPIC TORCH: Welcome boost for town’s businesses

St.Thomas a Becket Infants school. Pupils perpare for the Olympics. July 12th 2012 E28116N
St.Thomas a Becket Infants school. Pupils perpare for the Olympics. July 12th 2012 E28116N

WITH thousands of people expected to take to the streets of Eastbourne to see the Olympic torch on Tuesday, local businesses are expecting a bumper day at the tills.

Tuesday afternoons are not usually the busiest of times for town centre shops and cafes but shops, cafes and hotels along the route are hoping interest in the torch will generate some much-needed income.

Ray Mason, who heads up the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, said the visit of the Olympic flame would see the town’s businesses firing on all cylinders.

He said, “The relay will generate a lot of additional footfall in the town which can only be a good thing for shops and other businesses. The more people going past the better.”

And it was a sentiment shared by Darren Weir, a hotel guest house owner and committee member of the Eastbourne Hospitality Association.

He told the Herald local hotels were really looking forward to the torch and that, while it may not generate any extra overnight stays, the torch visit was helping to put Eastbourne on the map.

Mr Weir said, “There is a real buzz around the torch relay and it should be great for the town.

“All our members have been giving out information to tourists and letting people staying with them know when and where it is happening. They all seem very excited as well.

“Events like this show Eastbourne at its very best and help leave people with a great impression of the town.

“And, on top of that, hotels along the route like The Langham and the East Beach will hopefully be busy with people wanting to catch a glimpse of the torch.

“There are a lot of nice sun lounges at the front of local hotels which will be perfect spots to watch the relay from and we are expecting places to be busy.”

Eastbourne Borough Council said it was unable to put an exact figure on how much the torch relay may be worth for the town’s economy, but was confident it would be a welcome boost for businesses.

Tracey McNulty, the council’s head of tourism, said, “We can’t really quantify how much cash is generated by the torch relay at this stage, however nationwide TV coverage of Eastbourne getting ready to welcome the torch on ITV1 Daybreak next Tuesday morning is a great opportunity to attract new visitors to the resort, benefiting local businesses.

“In terms of benefits to the town, the event is very much about the feel good factor – generating civic pride, bringing the community together and celebrating Eastbourne and our sporting heritage.”

And another who has long preached about the positive impact of the torch visit is the town’s MP, Stephen Lloyd.

The Lib Dem was instrumental in lobbying the organisers of London 2012 to include Eastbourne on the relay list and now, after months of planning, he says he cannot wait to see the hard work come to fruition.

“I’m absolutely delighted, thrilled even, that the Olympic torch is coming to our town next week,” he said.

“It was a huge effort from many people to not only get the torch to the town, but to ensure the route at least took in some of the iconic seafront, so I hope and I feel sure that thousands of us will turn out to cheer it on.

“Fingers crossed the famous Eastbourne sun makes an appearance.”