Cycling fans who flocked to Harrogate for last September’s UCI Road World Championships spent a combined total of £22.5 million during their visit to in the North Yorkshire town, according to a new report.
The report, entitled The economic impact of Yorkshire 2019: Harrogate impact study findings and commissioned by Harrogate Borough Council from accountants Ernst & Young (EY), also found that teams and media spent £2.3 million in the district during the event.
With visitors spending a total of £6.3 million in Harrogate during a typical nine-day period, the gross value added to Harrogate’s economy through its hosting of the event was estimated by EY at £17.8 million.
EY says that an estimated 69,000 unique spectators travelled to the town for the championships, for a total attendance in Harrogate of 219,000 people across the event as a whole, with a total of 712,000 watching across the region as a whole.
Two in three spectators in Harrogate – 46,000 – came from outside the district, with 14,000 from elsewhere in Yorkshire, 20,000 from other parts of the UK and 12,000 from abroad.
They were roughly split between those who stayed overnight in Harrogate itself or made day trips, either travelling from home or from another base, accounting for 24,000 and 22,000 visitors respectively.
Accommodation, at £9.0 million, made up the single biggest component of visitors’ spending, with £5.9 million being spent on food and drink, £5.1 million on retail, tourism and other activities, and £2.5 million on transport.
18,000 visitors had never been to Harrogate before and more than 8 in 10, whether from the UK or abroad, said they were likely or very likely to recommend the district for a holiday and around three quarters saying they were likely to return.
And while local media has focused on criticism of the event by some residents and businesses, of people living there who watched the racing, just 7 per cent said they were highly dissatisfied with the event.
However, Harrogate Borough Council has made it clear that it does not intend to host any road cycling events in the near future.
In November, with rows still rumbling on about damage to The Stray which hosted the fan zone at the worlds, council leader Richard Cooper said: “The council was asked some time ago by Welcome to Yorkshire about whether it would be interested in hosting any elements of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2020,” said Harrogate Borough Council leader, Richard Cooper.
“We declined the offer. I think people want a rest from big events for a while and that is what I want to give them.”
The EY study was based on data collated through more than 450 spectator interviews and questionnaires share with accredited media and teams, as well as information from the event organisers and the UCI.
Crowd size numbers were assessed independently from a range of sources including review of broadcast footage, fan zone entries and data from National Rail.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.