Tour de Yorkshire pumped £60m into economy say organisers - and Brexit won’t stop it growing

Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) wins the opening stage at the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire in Scarborough. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) wins the opening stage at the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire in Scarborough. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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THIS year’s Tour de Yorkshire cycle race injected nearly £60m into the region’s economy, organiser Welcome To Yorkshire said today.

The tourism body said spending on accommodation was up 27 per cent on the previous year’s inaugural race, while expenditure on food, drink, souvenirs and transport was up by 12 per cent.

The race, staged over a rainy spring Bank Holiday holiday weekend, saw more than two million spectators line the route. A TV audience of 11.4m in 178 countries saw coverage on Eurosport.

Around 20 per cent of spectators had travelled from outside Yorkshire to watch the event.

Despite its French origins and the involvement of the Tour de France governing body, future races will not be affected by Britain’s exit from Europe, organisers said.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity said: “We don’t get any EU money for it so there’s no consequence from that point of view, and we welcome riders and visitors from Europe and beyond, and that will continue.”

He added: “Whatever your politics in terms of the vote, the one thing that does give you some stability in a somewhat uncertain world right now is that the Tour de Yorkshire will continue.”

According to figures released by Welcome to Yorkshire and analysed by Leeds Beckett University, spectators spent nearly £26m on accommodation this year, compared with £20m in 2015.

A further £33m was spent this year on food, drink, transport and other items - £4m up on the previous year.

No breakdown of the figures was available, but many spectators were drawn to Beverley, Settle, Otley, Doncaster, Middlesbrough, and Scarborough, which hosted starts and finishes during the three-day event.

Next year, Sheffield, Halifax, Harrogate and Selby will be among the host centres.

Wakefield is also considering bidding for future hosting duties despite questions being raised over the benefits to its local economy.

Councillors opted to go ahead with a bid in the face of a recommendation report from their officers, who claimed the move could cost the city up to £590,000 and bring in only £115,000 in revenue.

But the council’s leader, Peter Box, said the potential benefits were “incalculable”.

It is estimated hosting the start of a stage in Wakefield would cost £250,000 and bring in an extra £115,000 of spending by visitors.

Sir Gary said organisers were “over-subscribed” with offers to stage starts and finishes and would have to pick towns based on likely cycle routes.

“We have some thoughts and ideas for next year, but our challenge is to enhance the race every year and to come up with interesting turns,” he said.

He also forecast the race was still “many years away” from reaching its full financial potential and that new hotel developments in Leeds and elsewhere in the county would fuel further profitability.

“As fast as fast as we’re filling the rooms, new hotels are coming on over the next 12-24 months,” he said.

“In Leeds the investment in hotels is quite phenomenal.”

The Tour de Yorkshire was conceived as a legacy event of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, which Yorkshire hosted in July 2014.

Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme said Yorkshire was “fast becoming the heartland of cycling” while Tour de Yorkshire winner Thomas Voeckler compared it to racing in a stage of Tour de France.