Portsmouth tourism to 'feel the lack of the tall ships,' chamber of commerce president says
PORTSMOUTH — Tall ships will not make their way to Portsmouth this year, affecting tourism for the Seacoast city.
"We certainly will feel the lack of the tall ships," said Valerie Rochon, president of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.
Rochon said it is difficult to calculate the precise impact the tall ships will have on the Portsmouth community, but added that the summertime event usually brings in tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of people.
However, Rochon added that the summer months are the busiest times for the city, so even though they won't generate as much money for the Tall Ship event, they will still see revenue from visitors.
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta will head to Boston as opposed to Portsmouth this year, a deal made aware to Chad Chadwick, chairman of the Piscataqua Maritime Commission, about a year ago.
Sail Boston brings in tall ships every five years, and this year the organization paid ships in exchange for a non-compete clause, meaning the ships can not visit places within a certain amount of miles from Boston, Chadwick explained. This includes Portsmouth.
"We knew this was going to happen," Chadwick said.
With the tall ship event canceled for the year, PMC decided to focus their efforts on the Sea Challenge, which sends disadvantaged and challenged students out to sea for a week to build self-confidence and to learn teamwork by becoming a part of the crew.
Revenue from the tall ship event would have gone to the Sea Challenge, causing an impact on fundraising efforts to send 40 teens on the trip. However, Chadwick said that all the money that would have gone towards the event is going directly into the Challenge.
"The real heart of our program (PMC) is putting money aside for these kids," Chadwick said.
The organization continues to look for donors as the teens plan to depart on Aug. 7 until Aug. 13 on two ships, one from Maine and the other from Boston.
"If we can change one child's life, we consider that a success," Chadwick said.
PMC plans on bringing the tall ships back to Portsmouth next year and have already begun negotiations for the event, Chadwick said.