Millions lined the streets and a global TV audience tuned in to watch the iconic cycle race wind its way past some of Yorkshire’s iconic landmarks and landscapes with the first stage seeing Mark Cavendish, whose family hail from Harrogate, crash out of the race near the finish line in the spa town.
Members of Harrogate Council’s cabinet will be told this week how the hosting of the Tour boosted the local economy and it is inspiring more and more people in the district to take up cycling.
Stage one saw the likes of Cavendish and Chris Froome ride from Leeds to Harrogate via the Dales, before the York to Sheffield stage two and Cambridge to London third stage.
A report published by race organisers at the end of last year signalled Yorkshire has benefitted to the tune of £102m after the region hosted two of the Grand Depart’s three stages on July 5 and 6 last year, attracting 3.3m spectators.
It said the positive effects of the Tour’s visit look set to continue as Yorkshire is expected to see a further £24m boost from visitors returning to the region over the next two years.
The latest report to be discussed by councillors in Harrogate today calculates the Tour had a £19.2m direct economic impact on the district. However it says a survey found that while 53 per cent of tourism businesses in the area said they had directly benefited from the Tour, several said the economic impact over race weekend had not been as high as expected.
Surveys have also shown that businesses reported a “combination of positive, negative and neutral impacts,” the report says. However report authors say if the area attracts such a major event in future thought should be given “as to how to better prepare all businesses to make the most of any opportunities, as well as minimise negative impact.”
Coun Richard Cooper, the leader of Harrogate Council said: “The Tour de France has had a significant positive impact on the Harrogate district. Residents were captured by the romance of the tour, with communities working together to welcome visitors, as well as the riders themselves.
“The event raised our profile considerably on the world stage, huge numbers of visitors flocked to the region and it had a significant impact on the economy.”
Other parts of the county have already produced reports outlining the local economic impact.
A report commissioned by Calderdale Council revealed the event brought an extra £12.5m into the area, while councillors in York were told earlier this year that over the weekend of Le Tour alone the event generated additional spending of £8.3m into the York economy.
In the Harrogate area there are hopes that in the long term the event will also bring in more visitors and it will also inspire many to take up cycling.
“Longer term impacts of the Tour, including those that are less easy to quantify and those that might occur for years to come through increased numbers of visitors, increased participation in cycling and further events have yet to be fully realised. As a result, the eventual benefits to the district are likely to be significantly greater,” the report adds.