Thursday, June 6, 2013

News: Businesses to benefit from The Grand Départ


Members of the team that helped to bring the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 to Yorkshire gave an insight into how Rotherham businesses can benefit from the largest and most watched annual sporting event in the world taking place on their doorstep.

The Grand Départ is the opening of the race of the Tour de France and is regularly held outside France to promote the event and the sport of cycling. Two stages will take place in Yorkshire in July next year, taking in spectacular cities and countryside between Leeds and Harrogate in Stage 1 and York to Sheffield in Stage 2.

It is conservatively estimated that the economic impact of hosting the Grand Départ will be worth approximately £100m to the Yorkshire economy.

Millions are expected to line the route, which not only includes a race between the world's top professional cyclists, but a 180 vehicle publicity caravan and 2,000 journalists from 35 countries. The event is watched in 140 countries by a television audience of 3.5 billion people every year.

In addition to the race, Arts Council England this week awarded funding of £1m towards an Arts & Cultural Festival to showcase Yorkshire as a creative county in the 100 days before the start of the Tour de France 2014.

At the roadshow, held just 5km from the race route at The Magna Science Adventure Centre this week, Dee Marshall, head of communications for the Grand Départ explained how Welcome To Yorkshire, the region's tourism organisation, looked at staging high profile events when changes were made to how the organisation was funded.

"We looked at The Olympics, but knew that wasn't going to happen." said Marshall. "The FIFA World Cup was next on the list, but we knew that would be difficult so we were surprised to find that the Tour de France was third on the list of the world's biggest events.

"The tour needs little investment in comparison, no new stadiums or infrastructure, and gives a great return on investment."

Marshall admitted that she didn't think that Yorkshire would be selected in the face of stiff competition from Florence and Scotland, but the organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation, were impressed by the region's passion for hosting the event.

Rotherham has a good pedigree in the sport, brothers Russ and Dean Downing are pro cyclists and are acting as ambassadors for the Yorkshire leg of next year's tour. Fellow Rotherham pro, Ben Swift (pictured) will be hoping to ride on home soil for Team Sky.

Andrew Denton, head of media for Yorkshire's Grand Départ 2014, updated the attendees on what the event will actually bring to the region, explaining that, for visitors, it is a day out. The last time the Tour visited England was in 2007 when it raced from London to Kent. Two million people turned out over two days with spectators travelling 130km to see a stage of Le Tour, spending on average six hours at a time at the roadside.

It is expected that spectators will travel in groups and as families, with 30% of those spectators being women.

Vikki Harris, head of marketing at Welcome to Yorkshire, finished the session by providing a number of tips for businesses on how they can benefit from the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014. These included signing up for regular updates, preparing now for bookings, adapting products, working together and thinking internationally.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "The response to the roadshows has been staggering from rural areas to city centres. We have been blown away by the reception we have received at every one and the passion of the people we have met.

"We have already met with over 1000 businesses, that tells you something great about how the county is gearing up to receive the Tour de France. This is going to be huge for the whole of Yorkshire and with everyone pulling in the same direction to deliver the best ever Grand Départ, we can make a huge difference to the future fortunes of our county."

Le Tour Yorkshire website

Images: / Graham Watson


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