Harrogate has been named the true winner of the Tour de France, as it emerges the event brought a “phenomenal” £19.2m economic boost to the district.
A new Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) report reveals for the first time the full extent of the economic benefit to the area.
It shows that a total of 310,000 people lined the route of the Tour de France as it passed through the district over two days last July.
And it has demonstrated the true strength of the event – as 96 per cent of visitors surveyed said they will return.
“We knew the Tour was going to be huge,” said Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.
“But it was bigger and better than we could have hoped for. This is better than all of our hopes and dreams.”
HBC had initially set aside funds of £805,000 from reserves to fund the hosting of the event, revealing earlier this year that it had underspent by £177,000.
It has now emerged that investment helped bring an estimated £19.2m back to the district - equivalent to the council’s entire services spend for the whole year.
“It’s absolutely astonishing,” said council leader Richard Cooper (Con, High Harrogate). “We knew it was going to be good.
“We knew it was going to bring cash into the district. And, more importantly, bring people back in the future.
“But I don’t think we could ever have foreseen this.”
THE FULL REPORT
An “astonishing” £19.2m was brought back to the Harrogate district by the hosting of the Grand Depart, a new report has found.
The never-before-seen summary, set to go before Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) cabinet last night, reveals for the first time the true extent of the economic benefit to the district.
As well as huge sums spent in restaurants, hotels and local shops, it can also reveal that 96 per cent of Tour visitors surveyed said they will return.
“It’s phenomenal,” said HBC leader Richard Cooper, (Con, High Harrogate). “Especially compared to cities like Leeds, York and Sheffield - Harrogate is the winner here.
“To put it in context - £19.2m is something similar to what HBC has to spend on services across the district for a whole year. And we got that in three days.
“So let’s keep at it. Let’s keep bringing events here. Let’s make Harrogate a hub of events. Let’s keep the tills ringing.
“And let’s remember that it ain’t all about the money. It was jolly good fun too.”
The economic, social and cultural impact report comes after the region’s overall summary set out the national and regional impact in December.
That report found that across the whole of Yorkshire, around 2.3m people lined the route from Leeds to Harrogate, York and Sheffield, bringing an estimated £102m to the region’s economy.
Now, for the first time, the district figures have been released, showing that a full fifth (£19.2m) of that sum came to Harrogate alone.
That’s compared to £8.3m in York and £12.5m in Calderdale.
In total, 53 per cent of businesses said they had seen a direct benefit, although several commented that the impact hadn’t been as high as expected.
And as well as the economic benefit, the report showed that benefits have not been limited to the two days in July .
In total, one in 10 visitors surveyed in the district in May last year cited the Tour as a reason for their trip, while one in five quizzed in October had watched it on TV.
In addition, nearly halfof all visitors (44 per cent) surveyed on the Tour weekend had already returned to the district within three months.
“People were captured by the romance of the Tour,” the report said. “Their pride in our communities was reflected in the creative and imaginative decorations that graced the route - from knitted bunting to spotty cafés – communities worked together to welcome the riders.
“‘Legacy’ is a widely used, but frequently abused, term. At its simplest level it means that which is left behind.
“Applying this definition it is clearthat there has been a significant legacy from those few days in July.”