Firms across the Observer area are set to gain a vital additional boost from the arrival of the Olympic flame within the district.
Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry has hailed the historic visit as a golden opportunity for retailers to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime event that will draw thousands to the city to celebrate.
The torch relay’s arrival follows in the wake of the hugely well-received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations which saw large crowds party in Bognor Regis, Chichester and Midhurst, providing a much-needed lift for cafés, bars and town-centre stores during the festivities.
With the GB Olympics team having a number of competitors from the Observer area including sailing medallist Iain Percy and fellow medal winner Gemma Spofforth, whose family live in Slindon, there will be plenty for residents to cheer for over the next few weeks.
Farid Ahmed, president of Chichester’s chamber of commerce, believed it would be an excellent occasion.
He said: “The torch relay will help create a feel-good factor that was created with the Diamond Jubilee. I would like to think the people from Chichester and surrounding areas will support the event and fill the city – including a number of people who might be coming to the area for the first time or who would not normally venture in here.
“I am sure retailers in particular will be making the most of the opportunity to make their businesses look attractive, so I’m sure they will appreciate there being a lot of extra people in town.”
Andy Marcou, of Andy’s Fish, is one of many companies in the area believing the flame will have an impact. He said: “I think the torch celebration will be a good thing for the area. While sometimes bigger events can have a negative effect in terms of trade, I hope people will come and support the flame. Anything that brings people here has to be a good thing. I know a lot of businesses which are not on the route have told me they would love to be on it.”
Nigel Lynn, chief executive of Arun District Council, welcomed its arrival.
He added: “The Olympics torch relay as it comes through the district will help bring a feel-good factor to residents and businesses in the area.
“It is another opportunity to highlight Arundel, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton as a destination for visitors and businesses to invest.”