City leaders are saying a festival of this size has a huge impact on the city.

This is as thousands of visitors head to the bayfront. For the first time since 2019, the Tall Ships festival returns to the City of Erie.

Captain Billy Sabatini from the Flagship Niagara League said it’s a chance to highlight the city, the bayfront, and local tall ships.

He said this event is bringing visitors from all over to Erie.

“The draw is pretty amazing. If you go on to Expedia or, you look at the map, it says sold out everywhere, and I think that’s an important aspect to how our tourism is being driven here. If the hotels are full, that means people are definitely coming,” said Capt. Billy Sabatini.

Mayor Joe Schember said this festival draws a crowd of more than one hundred thousand spectators.

This comes just one week after a busy CelebrateErie festival weekend. Schember said Tall Ships Erie is another great opportunity to showcase the city.

“They’re going to see not just this event but our bayfront, the dock, and everything. I know when I talk to people, they’re really impressed. A lot of them say to me, ‘I’m going to bring my family back. This is really neat. I want to go out on the penninsula with them.’ So there are a lot of nice things in Erie. This really helps us capitalize on them.” said Mayor Joe Schember.

One representative from the Erie Downtown Partnership said summer festivals like tall ships provide an important economic boost for downtown businesses.

“We always see a huge positive economic impact from festivals like this. I know we’re still waiting on CelebrateErie’s final numbers, but I know that it was a huge weekend for the businesses downtown, and we expect tall ships to be the same,” said David Tamulonis.