After consistent growth since its launch in 2013, attendance at this year’s Classic TT in late August — held under an Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling banner along with the Manx Grand Prix for modern machines and Manx Classic Two-Day Trial — was disappointing.
Exit data from the IoM Steam Packet ferry line has revealed a 2.8% decline for in-bound passengers during the festival’s two-week period to 15,953. The number of motorcycles carried by Steam Packet vessels fell by 1.8% to 3889. However, cars and vans — many transporting classic road or race bikes — were 0.9% up to 3474.
Putting as much spin on the numbers as possible, Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward said it would appear more people are bringing their bikes across in this way, rather than riding them independently, and he claimed the overall figures were “very encouraging”. But the evidence really didn’t support his view.
Anecdotal reports suggested that the whole event seemed to be much quieter than in previous years and business activity in the paddock commerical area behind the TT Grandstand was certainly subdued. Some regular trade retailers, most notably Scott Leathers supremo Jimmy Aird, packed up and left the Island prematurely because of poor footfall.
Fairly grim weather over the fortnight certainly didn’t help. The Vintage Motor Cycle Club’s Festival of Jurby, held on the Sunday between Classic TT race days and usually attracting more than 10,000 fans, was virtually a wash-out.