Olympic Torch leaves economic afterglow in Plymouth
MASSIVE crowds which flocked to the Olympic torch relay set tills jingling across Plymouth.
Businesses revealed how the event created a massive boom.
One Barbican restaurant had its "best day ever", thanks to the Olympic Torch relay.
The estimated 55,000 people who flocked to Plymouth to see the Olympic flame brought a bonanza for city businesses.
"It was amazing," Ed Steven of the Glassblowing House restaurant on the Barbican in Plymouth said.
"Saturday was our busiest day ever. It had a massive impact on us. The Barbican was heaving, all along Southside Street. People were queuing for fish and chips from Platters across the road and all the way down to the Navy Inn."
John Allen, manager of the Navy, said: "We had a very successful day. There were a lot more people around than normal."
He said the event created a carnival atmosphere.
City hotels and guesthouses also had a bumper weekend because of the Olympic flame and the Superstock powerboat racing on the Sound.
Roy Martin, owner of the Invicta Hotel and chairman of the Plymouth Hospitality Association, said: "We were very full. I would say the accommodation sector did very well. I was talking to some of our 53 members and they were certainly full. Occupancy percentage rates were probably in the high 90s."
Tim Jones, chairman of Team Devon, estimated that the torch relay would have brought a direct benefit of £10million to £15million for the whole of the county. On top of that there would be an important feel-good factor.
"There has been so much appalling news, like the Greek economy, that people have latched on to the fact that there is some good news at last. The feel-good factor is enormous and the imagination has been captured. It has been beyond our wildest dreams."
And he said that having the torch start its journey in the South West meant there would be valuable national and international television coverage before interest began to wane.
David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "The very good turnout must translate into additional revenue for the city so that has to be a good thing."
There were also huge crowds in Saltash giving the flame an enthusiastic send-off as it left Cornwall. Cllr Hilary Frank, Saltash Town Council's main organiser for an event-filled day, said: "Saltash has never seen anything like it before. So much optimism has been generated and I hope we can build on that. I am hoping there will have been a big economic impact, with visitors coming from far afield."
She said police estimated that 10,000 people lined Fore Street in Saltash.
Nick Taylor, owner of Saltash Sports, who took part in the Passport to Sport events to get young people trying their skills at a variety of games. He said his own takings suffered as a result but he hoped there would be a long-term benefit.
For some runners the economic benefits appeared to be more immediate. Sky News reported yesterday that one torch had already sold on eBay for £153,100.
After leaving Plymouth the torch travelled 88 miles through Devon to Exeter, where it stayed on Sunday night before heading to Somerset yesterday.