Harrogate businesses' views on next big cycling event

"Its a great opportunity to showcase the town. - Ruth Hampson and Hayden Howells of Harrogate's Bean & Bud cafe.
"Its a great opportunity to showcase the town. - Ruth Hampson and Hayden Howells of Harrogate's Bean & Bud cafe.

On paper, the arrival of such a glittering event as the UCI Road World Championship for nine days in Harrogate next year should be a win-win for the local economy.

The event is sure to attract thousands of visitors in person and will spread Harrogate’s name - and pictures of how fantastic is is - to millions of TV viewers across the globe.

But there were some grumbles from traders that the Tour de France actually had the opposite effect in Harrogate town centre in 2014, pulling people in the direction of Parliament Street and West Park.

Such is the concern Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce held a meeting to raise their members’ concerns with councillors about the likely impact on trade.
Some small traders even argued the effect of nine days of cycling could be “catastrophic” for them.

But opinion is divided. Ruth Hampson, the co-owner of popular independent coffee house Bean & Bud on Commercial Street, said businesses had to look at the bigger pictures.

She said: “I know a lot of businesses feel they don’t benefit directly but I think people should look at the bigger picture.
“The Grand Depart and Tour de Yorkshire did bring extra visitors and to the town in general and it’s up to businesses to do linked PR to make the most of that.
“Yorkshire looks beautiful on the TV during these events, which must surely increase tourism in general.

“As this race is coming to Harrogate specifically I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase the town. Who wouldn’t want a world class sporting event in their town?”

But Paul Rawlinson, director of Baltzersens cafe on Oxford Street said he did have some concerns.

He said: “I think the UCI World Champs certainly offers some opportunities for Harrogate and could be a great event.

“As ever there will be winners and losers. Hotels and guest houses will inevitably win. Hospitality should do well purely based on the increase in numbers that need feeding around town

“If I were a retailer I would be worried because we’ve seen these events interrupt the normal pattern of life in the short term, if that is the case over a nne-day period it will be problematic

“It’s always quite frustrating when a ‘Fan Park’ gets slung up on the Stray and all that potential business stays there, eating from a burger van from somewhere out of Harrogate.

“It might be a good idea if someone from the council, ideally from the economic development team, could travel to this year’s hosts at Innsbruck and report back with actionable ideas about what we can do to help the event be as successful as possible for town centre businesses.”

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