Yorkshire’s Big Sporting Weekend – The Economic Benefits


There is no doubt that sporting events are big business for the places that choose to host them. This weekend we will see thousands of spectators descend on our region to enjoy world class sporting events, and they will not only be enjoyable occasions but also benefit the Yorkshire and Humber economy for some time to come.

Doncaster’s St Leger Festival is already well underway and this Saturday the starting leg of this year’s Tour of Britain cycle race will begin in Scunthorpe and on Sunday the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race takes up the baton as crews prepare to leave the docks in Hull and take on their global voyage.

Both these high profile events are guaranteed to attract international media as 16 of the world’s top cycling teams go head to head on our region’s roads and the Clipper 09-10 crews represent their countries in the 35,000 mile race which begins and ends in Hull.

Some people may ask why we, as the region’s development agency have invested in bringing these sporting events to the region and how these events benefit an economy going through some of the toughest challenges to date?

I say the proof is in the booking. This weekend all the hotel rooms in Hull are at full capacity and our leisure industry as a whole stands to benefit from this influx of guests. This reflects the excellent partnership work with Hull City Council and North East Lincolnshire Council who have wrapped cultural programmes around the events to maximise the number of visitors. 

Clipper has attracted 50,000 visitors to the region and to date has already achieved £5million of benefits with £1million from tourism visitor and event spend and £2million of media exposure.

Last year the Tour of Britain attracted over 80,000 spectators to the race and a total of 4200 visitors from outside the region. This in turn benefited our economy to the tune of £200,000 through the use of our hotels, restaurants and bars. Again, this year North Lincolnshire Council and East Riding Council have created a cultural programme which will bring and keep more visitors in the region to benefit local business.

In 2007 visitor spend in the region was £6.3bn, so one of our priorities is to increase tourism in Yorkshire and Humber by 5% year on year. Events such as these not only help to ensure we deliver on this target but raise the profile of the region to a global audience. 

Coverage of these events broadcast’s iconic images from our region into millions of homes with internationally renowned athletes and industry giants speaking positively about their host cities. This alone should not be underestimated in its ability to attract overseas business and leisure investment; the International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA) was brought to the region in 2007 and we have since seen tangible commercial benefits from relationships built over this period. Welcome to Yorkshire will use these events to reinforce their work to profile and market Yorkshire and Humber to a national and global stage.

These events also provide a different platform to do business. Clippers previous trade missions to Durban in South Africa, Singapore and Qingdao in China and New York have created new contracts worth £1million with more to come.

Another example of this for the 2009-10 race is Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, which has sponsored one of the ten yachts. It is hosting a business networking event and is visiting seafood businesses to take advantage of the trade opportunities the race creates. It also plans to bring a trade mission to the Humber for the race finish next July.  On top of this the Mayor and Vice Mayor of Qingdao will be visiting Hull to discuss potential business opportunities with key figures from local government and business.

We should also look at the effect these events have on our communities. The Clipper race has enabled ten disadvantaged young people to turn their lives around after being selected to participate in last year’s event. As a result they are now contributing to society, either in employment paying taxes or further education - saving the public purse nearly £1million a year. This year Clipper will host even more young people from challenging backgrounds and build on the successes already gained.

These are just some of the reasons why it makes good business sense to invest in major events and we can look forward to more of the same as we host the Mountain Bike World Cup in 2010, at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire. After beating off competition from the USA, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, Germany and the Czech Republic, we can host this race and many more safe in the knowledge that we are a region to be reckoned with.

By Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Forward