TENS of millions of pounds has been added to the economy in Bournemouth as a direct result of this year’s air festival, it has been estimated.

The popular annual event is the largest free public festival in the country and attracted more than one million visitors to the town, according to tourism chiefs.

Praising the success of the four-day event at Tuesday’s meeting of Bournemouth council, its leader Cllr John Beesley said that it had been worth an estimated £31m to the town’s economy.

The council is the main backer of the festival, which costs about £800,000 to put on, and financial support is also provided through several sponsors.

Cllr Beesley said: “This was the 11th Bournemouth air festival which I think by all accounts was one of the most successful that we have managed to hold, not least because we had four days of glorious sunshine which tends to have a bit of an influence on the numbers attending.

“This year we attracted more than one million visitors over the four days and it’s estimated that on the Saturday there were 460,000 people here in Bournemouth enjoying the festival – a remarkable figure, particularly given the festival started not that long ago.”

He added that it had “a material impact” on the town’s economy and that hundreds of jobs are supported through it.

“The impacts of the air festival aren’t just about the numbers, they are about the impact on the local economy and that’s why this council is so pleased to be able to support and foster all of the good relationships that come out of it,” he said.

“And in that context, it is estimated that it’s value to our local economy is some £31m and it’s estimated that it supports approximately 500 jobs so it makes a material impact on the residents of our town and on its local economy.”

More than nine million people have attended the annual event since it was first held in 2008.

Despite the abolition of Bournemouth council at the end of March, it is thought that the replacement Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch unitary authority will continue to support the event.