ExaminerTwo weeks of broken records and unbroken sunshine at this year’s TT will attract more visitors in the future, the politician responsible for motor sport says.

The 2018 festival has been hailed as ’one of the best TTs’ by MHK Rob Callister.

He said: ’Given the racing this year and the weather, I would expect to see an increase in visitors next year.

’It was one of the best TTs in history, where there were smashed records in every race.

’There was a great atmosphere throughout both weeks and locals and visitors took advantage of getting out with the weather.

’And there was so much entertainment for people to choose this year,’ he added.

The Steam Packet announced that almost 34,000 passengers and 13,236 motorcycles travelled to the island via ferry between May 23 and June 8.

A total of 11,028 passengers travelled from Heysham, compared to 10,207 in the same month last year, with 12,662 heading to Manx shores from Liverpool, which is also an increase from 2017.

The company has already confirmed an increase in deposit bookings for TT 2019.

Chief executive Mark Woodward said: ’Comparing the first 17 days from when bookings for the 2019 TT opened last month to the same period last year there has been an 8% increase in TT deposit bookings with a 14% increase in passengers.

’These figures are not only highly encouraging but are also evidence of the TT’s continued attraction for motorcycling race fans.

’Demand to travel to the event remains extremely high and we are already looking ahead to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 International Road Races in July and the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling in August.

’We look forward to welcoming many more motorcycling enthusiasts to the island in 2018.’

Official figures about airline passenger numbers travelling over for the TT are yet to be released.

In 2017, more than 40,000 visitors came for the TT, which was a 6.2% increase on 2016.

However, Mr Callister thinks this year’s figures will be slightly lower than the previous year.

He said: ’If you remember last year, the weather was very poor. It’s very strange because if we have a wet TT it stops people coming the next year, but with the unbroken sunshine at this TT I expect numbers to be up the next year.’

He added: ’I haven’t heard any complaints or problems about the sailings at this TT, but some flights were cancelled due to fog. I can only apologise once again to our visitors for those cancellations.’

When asked whether the Isle of Man Government will be making changes to the Steam Packet sailings for TT in future, he replied: ’We have to wait for discussions about the user agreement.

’It’s a fine balance between supporting locals wishing to travel, but also supporting our key sector of tourists coming over to watch motorcycling events as well as the TT festival.’

He also praised the television coverage.

The government awarded the TT TV contract from this year onwards to Greenlight Television, which operates in the island. North One was the previous holder of the tender.

’I felt the coverage was very good and gave more emphasis on the actual races,’ he said. ’I felt that given the fact that this is the first time [Greenlight Television] have done it in several years.

’They did a great job with their footage of the island, from a visitor economic point of view. I’m waiting for feedback on the viewing figures.’

Mr Callister also thanked residents who helped settle those who had travelled from afar.

’I’m extremely grateful for the island residents who opened the doors to their homes as part of the homestay initiative and providing that fantastic service,’ he said.

’I think most people left the Isle of Man TT festival with positive thoughts of a lovely location and will be back next year.’

Mr Callister also extended his sympathies after the race claimed the lives of Dan Kneen from Onchan and newcomer Adam Lyons from Scotland.

’In the middle of all of this there’s the sadness of the loss of two young riders, one of whom was a well-respected local rider Dan Kneen,’ he said.

Source: IoM Today