UCI cycling 'brought Harrogate £17.8 million' to its economy

Hosting the 2019 UCI Road World Championships resulted in a £17.8 million-pound boost to the local economy of the Harrogate district, according to an impact study.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 4:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 4:39 pm
Riders in last year's UCI Road World Championships on a rare dry day.

The report - commissioned by Harrogate Borough Council at a projected cost of £19, 000 and prepared by leading accountancy and advisory firm Ernst & Young (EY) - also found 84 per cent of people who came to watch the event were satisfied or very satisfied with it.

Event organiser Yorkshire 2019 has confirmed the global TV audience for the championships exceeded initial estimates, with 329 million people tuning in to watch.

But the new report focuses more on the actual economic benefits of the event for Harrogate district last September.

UCI cycling benefits report: highlights

Visiting spectators spent a total of £22.5 million during their stay

849 journalists and 2,100 team members came to Harrogate

Participating teams and journalists spent £2.3 million in Harrogate itself

The economic boost to the district equates to the annual employment of 600 people

Of 69,000 unique visitors, 66 per cent were from outside the district, contributing to total event attendance in Harrogate of 299,000 over nine days

18,000 people visited the district for the first time and 12,000 travelled from abroad

The busiest single day for visitors was the second Saturday (September 29)

Spending on hotel accommodation alone contributed £9m to the local economy

Of the first-time visitors, 85% of the international visitors and 88% of the UK visitors said they were likely, or very likely, to recommend Harrogate as a holiday destination

71% of the international visitors and 78% of UK visitors said they were likely, or very likely, to return for a holiday

The visitor numbers were consistent with the 2018 UCI championships held in Innsbruck.

Harrogate people's experience of the UCI cycling event

While seven per cent of Harrogate residents said they were highly dissatisfied with the event, 60 per cent of local residents (compared to 59 per cent of all respondents) said they were 'very satisfied' with the event.

EY was commissioned by Harrogate Borough Council to carry out the impact study with a focus on the number of visitors, media and teams, the long-term benefit of the championships, how the event was managed and the engagement it created.

The UCI event took place in September 2019 and saw over 800 riders from 67 countries came to the district for nine days for what is considered to be cycling's world cup.

Many of the district's towns and villages were involved in the event either as a start location or were on one of the routes. All races finished in Harrogate town centre.

Sadly, the weather was uncharacteristically bad for September and was the wettest on record for 45 years and one of the worst since records began.

The council acknowledges that not every business in Harrogate town centre benefitted directly from the championships. For future events, not necessarily cycling-related, it is considering ways of driving footfall to retail businesses more generally.

Coun Graham Swift, Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet member for economic development, said:

"A shot in the arm to the local economy of almost £18m is a fantastic outcome, despite the best efforts of Mother Nature to wash away the championships.

"It's clear that the event has had a positive effect.

"I am delighted to see that so many people travelled from outside the district to be here, and the fact many of them wish to return again in the future.

"Of course, this study is just a snapshot of the impact of our hosting the road cycling's annual major event and only relates to the nine days of the championships.

"Additional benefits will come in the long-term from the global exposure the district had.

"The fact more than 300 million people tuned in to the broadcast coverage is amazing."

Esther Britten, head of major events at UK Sport, which invested National Lottery funding into the event, said:

"Once again the UK has demonstrated that it is home to some of the world's most passionate sports fans.

"Hosting major sporting events such as the UCI Road World Cycling Championships is central to our ambition of maintaining the UK's position as a leading host of major international sports events.

"Seeing the fan numbers in Yorkshire and those tuning in around the world alongside the significant economic benefit to the local and regional economy is very encouraging."