IT’S not often that you’ll hear Oban mentioned in the same breath as Washington, Cape Town or Panama. But in winning selection as a host port of the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, the west-coast town joins a dozen international venues that, over the course of the 2023-24 event, will welcome more than 300 international race crew and officials as they circumnavigate the globe.

Oban can be proud of the achievement. It is the first time Scotland has featured on the event’s itinerary since it started in 1996 – and the first time that a major international offshore yacht race has been hosted in Scotland.

Like other host ports, which include Punta del Este in Uruguay, Fremantle in Australia and Qingdao in China, the town can expect a multi-million-pound economic boost when the clipper race reaches Scotland’s shores in July 2024.

In addition to competitors and officials who will be in town for 10 days before pushing on to Portsmouth for the final leg, thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Oban to witness the spectacle.

Sealing the deal was not easy. It involved months of negotiation and navigating stiff competition from other European destinations that understand the economic value of hosting such a prestigious event.

We are proud to have played a part in bringing the clipper race to Scotland but there is much work still to do. When it lands, the eyes of the world – through the lens of broadcast cameras and social media – will be on Oban and, of course, Scotland.

READ MORE: Rangers investigate after flag with Nazi hate symbol seen at Ibrox

There are less than 10 months to ensure that we deliver a world-class reception that showcases the very best that our country has to offer.

We have a great opportunity to build on Scotland’s rich history in building world-renowned racing yachts, to showcase an extensive coastline that is suited to offshore yacht racing, and to position Oban – not to mention other Scottish ports – as serious contenders to host international races with all the economic benefits they bring.

Consider the tourism boost enjoyed by other UK towns and cities that have hosted the clipper event.

Derry in Northern Ireland has welcomed the trans-global race on five occasions over the last decade and estimates that it has attracted more than 600,000 visitors. In 2016, the stopover resulted in a £3.5 million boost to the economy. In 2018, hotel occupancy peaked at 97% with a record 211,000 visitors.

Almost 80,000 tourists from across the UK and overseas flocked to Liverpool when it hosted the race start in 2017. An evaluation report pegged the economic boost at more than £7m and noted that the most frequent type of accommodation was four-star, reflecting the affluent nature of the audience.

READ MORE: Alister Jack: Devolve and forget era in Scotland is 'dead'

The benefits do not end there. International yacht races have a low carbon footprint – the vessels are driven by wind – and their climate-friendly credentials are increasingly attractive to sponsors. The potential spin-offs from trade deals are lucrative. Notable examples include Scotch whisky brand Old Pulteney which saw an 18.3% year-on-year increase in sales as a result of sponsoring a yacht in the 2013/14 edition.

Gordon & MacPhail has gained multi-million-pound deals in Singaporean and South African markets through its involvement in the race.

Civic officials in Oban are already working hard to make the event a success but like all local authorities, Argyll and Bute is grappling with limited budgets. The town needs support and I hope the Scottish Government will recognise the huge opportunity on the horizon, as it did when the UCI Cycling World Championships was hosted in Glasgow and across the country in August.

This is a chance to establish the west coast of Scotland as a viable host port for international yacht races and provide a catalyst for trade and investment.

A lot of hard work went into bringing the clipper race to Scotland. With it comes fantastic opportunities. The prize is there for the taking. We just need to grasp it with both hands.

Gordon Ritchie is the managing director of GRM, a marketing and communications agency