Plan for Tour now, business urged

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.

The chief executive of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire urged businesses across the district yesterday to start planning now to take advantage of the opportunities presented by next year’s Tour de France.

Speaking at a free business breakfast organised by Raworths Solicitors, Gary Verity said the Tour, which will pass through the Harrogate district twice on the first two days of the race, would be worth at least £100m to Yorkshire, and he stressed the scale of the event.

“This will be a life-changing moment for our county,” he said. “You may not realise it now, but in 12 months’ time, three weeks after the bikes have left, you will. This thing is taken live in over 150 countries around the world. The highlights package – for one hour every evening – is taken in 198 countries around the planet.

“The build-up has already started and it will be phenomenal. The event, when it comes here, will be simply huge.”

But while holding out the promise of corporate hospitality opportunities and various levels of sponsorship, he also sounded a note of caution. The top-level sponsors would, he said, be extremely protective of their brand, and local companies should be careful if they planned to “piggyback”. Letters threatening legal action had already been sent out to several companies who had “tried to be clever”.

“You can’t just hijack the brand,” he warned, citing the case of “enterprising farmers” who might try to advertise from a trailer in their field.

“Anybody who thinks they’ll put up a big sign promoting whatever – fine, go ahead – but no-one will see it. They’ll be shut down before the race comes through by the Tour police.

“The reality is that everything is possible – it’s down to the size of your chequebook. But you have to be realistic – you’re not going to be high-profile, on the TV, for 20 grand.”