AN invasion of bikers generated more than £1million for the local economy in just one day - leading to fresh calls for Hastings to embrace the ‘Round Pound’.
An estimated 26,000 people flocked to the town centre on Bank Holiday Monday for the annual biker meet up - with thousands of motorcycles roaring their way down the seafront road.
And, according to Howard Martin who organised the trade fair and other events on the day, as much as £1.5million will have been spent locally as a result.
“The average amount a biker spends on a day trip is around £68,” explained Mr Martin. “Times that by the number of people who made the trip to Hastings and it is a significant and timely boost for the local economy.”
And it was not just businesses and traders who benefited.
More than £10,000 was collected for charity and will soon be distributed to a host of good causes - including Help For Heroes, Sussex Air Ambulance and St Michael’s Hospice.
Now Mr Martin wants to see Hastings make the most of its blossoming reputation as a biker friendly haven and cash in on the relatively un-tapped motorcycle market.
He told the Observer: “Other similar-sized towns to Hastings are targeting the stag and hen industry and we should be doing the same with the biking community.
“Bikers these days are worth attracting. Around 25 per cent of riders earn more than £50,000 a year and most good bikes cost upwards of £10,000.
“In fact, we had more than £1million worth of bikes on display in Robertson Street and on the America Ground alone.
“Not only do they spend money while they are here but if they leave with a good impression of the town they will come back and some may even look at the area as a good place to invest or start a business.”
Mr Martin was helped on the Monday by youngsters from the Hastings Community Trust and said it was by involving the community in the rally that the perception of bikers would change and the town as a whole would realise the opportunities available by becoming a biker destination.
“There was no trouble or hassle at the event and it was lovely to see people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying the day.”
For the first time, the Hastings end of the rally had corporate sponsorship, from Brittany Ferries, and there were trade stalls from a host of big name firms.
And, in a move away from the usual ad hoc basis of parking, a town centre area was set aside to be something of a haven for people wanting a quieter day alongside their precious bikes - with the seafront becoming the preserve of the younger, more enthusiastic crowd.
Mr Martin is now determined to build on the success of this year’s event - which attracted riders from as far afield as Berlin, Germany.
“The people of Hastings have really started to embrace the event,” he said. “I am sure next year will be bigger and better.”