The Tour of Britain delivered an £11m boost to Cumbria’s economy when the county hosted two stages in 2018.
The cycle race – branded the OVO Energy Tour of Britain – returns to the county on Tuesday September 10th.
Stage four, beginning in Gateshead, will enter the Cumbria on the B6276 above Stainmore and pass through Brough, Kirkby Stephen, Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale, finishing with a challenging climb up Beast Banks in Kendal where 10,000 spectators watched when the town last hosted the race in 2016.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “We know from experience that the Tour brings substantial economic benefits.
“It isn’t only businesses along the route that can profit from the race. The extensive TV coverage is effectively a free advertisement for Cumbria, which should lead to a sustained increase in visitor numbers.”
He added: “Last year we put together a toolkit, based on best practice elsewhere, to help businesses maximise the benefits.
“It was a great success and was downloaded more than 4,300 times, so we’ve updated it for 2019. It’s important that businesses start planning now and have a strategy in place to make the most of this great opportunity.”
After the Tour came last year, the organisers commissioned independent research to assess the economic impact.
They calculated that Cumbria benefited by almost £11m as a direct result of the race. Other findings included:
240,000 spectators watched the two stages;
5m viewed the coverage on ITV4;
60% of spectators came from outside Cumbria and 48% stayed overnight;
Average spend by overnight visitors was £133 per group.
Once again this year, each stage of the race will be televised live on ITV4, with the coverage reaching a worldwide audience of millions.
Toolkit: How businesses can benefit
Accommodation: When spectators take their place at the roadside they will not move so takeaway lunches will be popular. There is likely to be demand for temporary campsites. Provided the land is not used for more than 28 days in a calendar year, planning permission is not required, and provided it is not used for more than 42 days consecutively, or 60 days in total in any consecutive 12 months, there is no need for a tent site licence.
Food and drink: The Tour of Britain will see thousands of spectators gathered along roads where there are usually few facilities. This is an opportunity for food and drink operators to create temporary or mobile outlets, as well as selling from their existing locations. Consider Tour of Britain themed products and whether you need to modify opening hours. If you’re not already a food and drink operator, and want to provide food, contact your district council’s environmental health department to discuss your proposals to see if you need to register as a food business. Pubs, restaurants and clubs with a TV can show live coverage and highlights programmes. This doesn’t need to be limited to the days the Tour is in Cumbria – it could boost business all week.
Retail: Engage staff and customers by creating a window display with a Tour of Britain theme, perhaps incorporating a bicycle. You could also run a competition or promotion themed around the tour.
Collaboration: Are there complementary businesses you could work with? For example, could you provide bicycle maintenance or hire for nearby hotels that cater for cyclists? Or could you offer evening meals or packed lunches for nearby accommodation, including campsites, that cannot offer their own?
Practicalities: Businesses on or near the route should plan accordingly. In general, Tour of Britain will operate rolling road closures but roads will be reopened shortly after cyclists and their support vehicles have passed through. There may also be parking restrictions and some side roads may close. Consider how staff and customers will get in and out, whether you need extra staff or need to modify opening hours or increase stock or orders to cater for additional demand. Businesses sending regular emails to customers can include factual information about the Tour of Britain as a secondary message. Use posters too to remind customers about the Tour.
Becoming cycle friendly: Consider if your business could be more cycle friendly. Accommodation providers, for example, can offer cleaning facilities for bikes and kit, install a bike rack, provide maps and information on cycle routes, offer complimentary water and sell emergency repair kits and bike pumps. Click here to view the Cumbria and the Lake District Cycle Tourism Toolkit and here to find out about VisitEngland’s Cyclists Welcome accreditation and here for Cumbria Tourism’s Quality Cumbria accreditation.
Web and social media: Think about the audience that might visit your website and anticipate the questions they might have. Include details of local facilities and any events for cyclists. If you are cycle friendly, make sure your website mentions this. A link to the Tour of Britain website will ensure your customers can access up to date information on the race, including spectator maps. Use social media to highlight what your business is doing around the Tour of Britain using the hashtag #OVOToB. Engage with @tourofbritain on Twitter.
Branding: The Tour of Britain logo can be used only by official sponsors, partners and in the media or event listings. It cannot be used to endorse products, services or specific businesses, or imply the endorsement of the organisers unless there is a sponsorship or other agreement in place.
Legacy: Do you want to promote a special offer to encourage spectators to return after the Tour of Britain? If so, decide what this will be now. You could offer goods branded with your logo to encourage customers to return. During the Tour, display posters promoting events later in the year to give people a reason to come back.
Corporate hospitality: Businesses that want to offer clients an opportunity to watch the race can book corporate hospitality packages at the finish in Kendal. Prices start at £60 per person plus VAT in the Tour Club hospitality area up to £120 plus VAT for the Tour Enclosure premium hospitality suite. More here.