Torbay Council committed to investing £750,000 over three years to implement a new Events Strategy and support wider cultural and heritage activities. Discussions are currently underway to host an extended English Riviera Airshow in 2022 that will coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee alongside a number of other new events including a new Springtime Walking Festival and expanded Christmas-time events.

The Events Strategy which was formally approved at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 25 May, will now see Council officers progress an operational action plan that will be developed together with an advisory Events Steering Group made up of independent stakeholders.

Developing the Events Strategy action plan will be the starting point to build capacity and deliver a strong and vibrant events sector, that will have a positive effect on the local economy and enrich the lives of local residents as well as visitors to the area.

The Events Steering Group will support the delivery of a multi-layered, year-round, area-wide events offer and look to work collaboratively with commercial event organisers, producers and event specialists both nationally and internationally to bring high quality events to the area as well as working with local volunteer and community groups.

This will be the first time there has been a cohesive approach to event management within Torbay, allowing the area to start competing with other resorts – many of which already have a well-developed event offer to support the local economy.

The tourism industry is worth an estimated £500 million per annum to the local economy, with events such as the English Riviera Airshow contributing approx. £7million alone.

An all-year round events offer will also encourage the creation of more local jobs, moving away from the more traditional seasonal employment opportunities.

In addition, the ERBID Co has pledged a further £100,000 per annum for the next 5 years to support the development of the plan if successful in their ‘yes’ vote for ERBID2 – bringing the ring-fenced total for all-year round event development to £600k for the next 3 years with a further £450,000 being spent by the Council on other Events, Culture and Heritage Projects.

The joint investment would allow for more events of regional and national significance to be developed that would support the vision of the English Riviera being a premier resort in the UK, with a sustainable vibrant arts and cultural offer that not only has a positive impact on the local economy but the local natural environment.

Councillor Mike Morey, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Culture for Torbay Council, said: “Our cultural offer, including events, is seen as a critical contributor to the area’s success, making Torbay, the English Riviera, an attractive proposition to live in, work in and visit. Up until now there has been no strategy and no cohesive approach. The Events Strategy has a long-term focus that will build capacity in the sector, seek out more funding and match funding opportunities, and also play a part in addressing our climate change emergency.

Councillor Swithin Long, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Tourism and Housing for Torbay Council, said: “Tourism remains a key sector for Torbay and to ensure its visitor economy continues to thrive, we need to make more of the area’s natural and cultural assets – an all-year round events offer will help us to achieve that. Not only that it will help us to attract investment and re-investment into the area, which in turn will increase employment opportunities for local people which is more vital than ever as we look to recover the sector from the devasting economic impact of the pandemic”.

Carolyn Custerson, Chief Executive Officer, English Riviera BID Company Ltd, said; “There has never been a more important time to develop and implement an Events Strategy, especially as we begin to emerge from the pandemic and look to support the tourism sector through its recovery, both now and in the longer term. If we are successful with our ‘yes vote’ for ERBID2 the new joint fund, upwards of £600k will allow us to work in partnership with Torbay Council for the first time to develop events that are sustainable, more regionally and nationally distinctive and have a great impact on our visitor numbers all-year round”.

The English Riviera is already home to a number of award-winning events such as England’s Seafood Feast, International Agatha Christie Festival and the English Riviera Airshow which is due to return next year after a two-year hiatus.