YORKSHIRE is winning hearts and minds across the country thanks to the feelgood factor generated by the county’s hugely-successful hosting of the Tour de France.
More than one-third of the UK’s population claim their opinions of God’s Own County have been positively changed following the unprecedented success of the Grand Depart.
The sheer scale of Yorkshire’s staging of the race left experienced commentators struggling for words after millions of people lined the routes across Yorkshire to cheer on the planet’s best cyclists.
A new study has revealed that one-quarter of the country’s population now want to visit Yorkshire following the positive publicity surrounding the Tour.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, who led the winning bid for the world’s greatest cycle race, said the economic benefits to the county are estimated in excess of £100m.
He said: “The passion, the crowds and the support that Yorkshire demonstrated for the Tour to the watching world were mind-blowing.
“The economic benefit to the county is being conservatively estimated to be in excess of £100m, but could well be more after what we all witnessed and these early research results too.
“Whatever the final figure, it was the images of Yorkshire and its amazing landscapes being beamed around the world which will prove priceless in the months and years ahead for our county.”
Bosses at the tourism agency are now being urged to echo the Tour’s success by attracting even more high-profile sporting events to Yorkshire.
Three-quarters of the county want Welcome to Yorkshire to bid for more sporting events.
Mr Verity said the county has enormous potential to becoming a global must-see destination.
He said: “This is the start of a journey for Yorkshire, not the end of one.
“The Yorkshire Grand Départ was a game changer and we’re only just scratching the surface of the enormous potential that our county has as we continue on our way towards being a global must-see destination.”
A new international, world-class cycle race is now being planned for the county, dubbed the Tour of Yorkshire – which will see three days of racing delivered by Welcome to Yorkshire, ASO and British Cycling from May 1 to 3 next year.
Le Tour director Christian Prudhomme said he believed there could have been up to four or five million spectators in Yorkshire last weekend hoping to catch a glimpse of the peloton as it wove its way through the region’s cities, towns and scenic backdrops.
He said: ““You have raised the bar for all future hosts of the Tour de France.”
And Bernard Hinault, a five time winner of the Tour, said he had never seen crowds as big in over 40 years in the sport.
Broadcasters also celebrated the Tour’s success after British Eurosport posted a huge 60 per cent rise in average live audience for the Grand Depart compared to 2013, which it attributes to the “Yorkshire effect”.
The Tour’s Yorkshire debut saw an average of one million viewers watch ITV’s main coverage of day one, while over 900,000 more tuned into ITV4.
Sunday’s York to Sheffield stage averaged 1.2million viewers on ITV and a further 516,000 on its sister channel.
Twitter also played a key role too with a combined reach of @letouryorkshire tweets during the weekend of 23.2 million accounts.