TOURISM chiefs at the i360 say things are “looking up” as they revealed the seafront attraction has contributed £89.6 million to the local economy since opening three years ago.

Chief operating officer Ian Hart said the viewing platform had a “bright future” and expected visitor numbers to increase after two successive years of decline.

He claimed the i360 would bring £640 million of extra money to Brighton by the time it repaid its £36.2 million loan in 2041.

“It has been a year of transformation,” Mr Hart said.

“We have seen a very strong increase in visitor numbers this year.

“And for the last three years the contribution we have given to the local economy is very positive.”

The report claims the i360 has supported 447 local jobs across Brighton by bringing tourists to the area and paying its employees a living wage.

And the attraction is the main reason one per cent of all tourists visit the city, bosses claim.

Though the number of i360 visitors sank to its lowest point last financial year, Mr Hart and architect Julia Barfield are hoping it will increase.

According to the report, about 2.5 billion people have become aware of the i360 through marketing since 2016.

“We’ve only had five months this year and we’re doing well,” Mr Hart said.

“We’ve increased our marketing spend and more people are aware of us. We’re hoping for a rise. This year we’ve had some unseasonal weather and the uncertainty of Brexit, but we’re hoping for a rise.”

But Ms Barfield said i360 Ltd was aiming to change the amount it pays back to the government-owned Public Works Loans Board.

This year Brighton and Hove City Council agreed to defer a loan repayment of more than £1 million after the attraction could not pay it back.

“The prediction is we would hope the amount we pay is going to change,” Ms Barfield said.

“What we’re hoping to do is a restructuring plan.”

And Mr Hart rejected the idea of lowering ticket prices for the i360, saying keeping the same price has meant it has gone down once you factor in inflation.

“We don’t need to drop the price, it’s very good value,” he said.

“We didn’t increase the price this year or last year, so by not increasing the price it has gone down.”

The i360 chief said the attraction was a “minimum 25-year project”.

“This is a long-term infrastructure project,” he said.

“That is 25 years of good economic and social impact.”