A major local sporting event isn’t just good for morale, it’s also good for business – if the Women’s Tour is going to hit our streets in October 2021.
Sports fans have struggled over the past two years with event after event canceled or held behind closed doors in the wake of the pandemic. The Women’s Tour cycle race was one such event, disappointing fans with its cancellation in 2020, but organizers worked hard to get it back on track for 2021 and delivered a world-class spectacle that also gave business region a much-needed boost. .
The vision of 138,000 people taking to the streets of Essex and Suffolk over the weekend of October 8-9, 2021 was a treat for the two international cyclists – for whom it was their first major cycling event since the pandemic – and also for the businesses that lined the course.
Two stages crossed Suffolk and North Essex: Stage 5, which saw cyclists race from Colchester to Clacton via Holland-on-Sea, Thorpe-le-Soken and Manningtree; and Stage 6, which started in Haverhill and saw the peloton pass through Sudbury, Stowmarket, Wickham Market and Woodbridge before reaching the finish line on the Felixstowe seafront.
Crowds gathered at the starting lines, eager to see their favorites lined up as they tackled the next stage of this epic race. Even more fans made their way to the finish to see Stage 5 winner Lorena Wiebes of the Netherlands and Stage 6 winner Elisa Balsamo of Italy cross the finish line.
And the show didn’t stop there. A cycling race wouldn’t be complete without the presentation of the coveted jerseys, which were presented in Clacton at the end of Stage 5 to the most consistent all-rounder, climber, sprinter and daily finisher. The celebrations in Felixstowe at the end of Stage 6, the final leg of the competition, also included the crowning of overall champion Demi Vollering of the Netherlands.
It was impossible not to get swept up in the feel-good spirit of a major sporting event on our doorstep, but it wasn’t just locals cheering along the roadsides – nearly 50,000 spectators from outside Suffolk and Essex came to enjoy the race. , with 7,980 overnight stays at local hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts, providing a much-needed boost to local tourism. Add to that the restaurants, cafes and shops that have seen an increase in trade, and the net economic impact comes to £1.5million.
“The results of the Economic Impact Report for the Suffolk and Essex stages speak for themselves in what a huge success the 2021 race has been,” said Jonathan Durling, Director of Partnerships at SweetSpot. , which organizes the Women’s Tour. “With the 2021 race including two stops in Essex before our last stop in Suffolk, the region will have benefited from the number of nights that not only spectators, but also teams and organizers have spent in the region – both during race planning and the event itself.
“We know the past two years have been particularly difficult for the tourism and hospitality sectors, but these are two groups that will benefit from events like the Women’s Tour.
“Whether it’s the Women’s Tour or the Tour of Britain, racing has always had a tremendous welcome in Suffolk and Essex. The races are a fantastic platform not only for local businesses to engage their workforce and the wider community, but also to be associated with an upcoming world class sporting event in the region. Quite simply, it’s the support of local stage partners that makes the race possible.
One such partner was the East of England Co-op, which supported both stage 5 of the race and the design of a shirt contest which took place as part of the build-up to the ‘event.
“It was clear to us that the Women’s Tour 2021 would have a really positive impact on the local economy,” said Lynn Warner, Head of Engagement for the East of England Co-op. “Working with the Stage 5 organisers, Colchester Borough Council, the sponsorship has provided us with significant opportunities including promoting our new Chesterwell store in Colchester, recruiting members to a new shopping area for us and showcasing our work in the local community.”
Sam Good, business improvement district manager at Our Colchester, echoed the impact of the opportunities presented by the Tour. “It has been a real coup for Colchester to host the Women’s Tour in 2021, a year that has seen its fair share of challenges for the business world,” he said. “The buzz that has been created both locally and nationally has had a really positive impact on Colchester as a whole.
“Events like this, which bring people and businesses together, help instill a sense of pride in the town and show residents, visitors and workers the many exciting things happening in Colchester.”
The fact that Stages 5 and 6 of the race were watched by 249,000 viewers on ITV 4 and 946,000 on Eurosport will also help to raise the profile of tourist destinations along the route to domestic and European markets.
“Hosting large and prestigious events such as the Women’s Tour is an important aspect of our local tourism economy, not only for the visitors they directly attract, but also for promoting Essex’s Sunshine Coast to those who have associated media coverage,” said the firm’s Alex Porter. Member for Leisure and Tourism of the Tendring District Council.
“This in turn supports local businesses and is good for our town centers and shopping streets. That’s why we continue to bring back established events, such as the Clacton Airshow, and also seek to attract new ones. Hopefully, as the Covid-19 situation stabilizes, we can expect larger scale events again.
Attractions to broaden the appeal of the Tour, such as FelixFest, which was organized by East Suffolk Council and took place on Felixstowe seafront during the race weekend, provided additional business opportunities to maximize the event.
“The Women’s Tour was a fantastic event,” said Tom Evans of the Boardwalk Café Bar in Felixstowe. “Not only did we see an increase in attendance during the day, but our evening was very busy with people staying to enjoy the view and the late evening sun on the pier.”
Haverhill also planned plenty of activities around the main event, which helped keep people in town longer. Julie Clark, Haverhill Town Center Manager, said, “Heart of Haverhill was thrilled with the success of the Women’s Tour and the positive impact it has had on our town and local businesses.
“We organized a very successful cycle route which brought together 25 local businesses and our local community and helped promote the race. We also hosted a corporate breakfast to learn more about the event and a static bike ride for two local charities.
“The Women’s Tour has showcased all that is good about Haverhill.”
Business leaders also hope that the success of the event will help encourage more major sporting events in our region, which will help our economic recovery from the pandemic.
Richard Hunt, Strategic Head of Visitor Economy at Suffolk Growth Partnership, said: “The success of the Women’s Tour 2021 is great news for Suffolk and demonstrates the impact that can be achieved through partnership. The Tour has made a significant contribution to our local economic recovery and solidifies Suffolk’s position as a center for major outdoor sporting events.
“As our recovery from Covid continues, we will work with our partners to ensure that Suffolk remains a top tourist destination for local, national and international visitors, and that we can secure sporting events like this at the future, which add so much value to the visitor economy.
And while the hope is to attract further sporting events, plans for the Women’s Tour 2022 are already underway, with partners from Suffolk and Essex working together to host a stage, which will fit in perfectly. in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
“Vertas was proud to be a partner of Stage 6 of the Women’s Tour 2021, not only because it was the culmination of such a prestigious sporting event, but also because of the impact the event itself has had on the local economy,” said Ian Surtees, group chief executive of Vertas.
“We are delighted to announce that we will once again be a supporting partner of the Suffolk leg of the Tour in 2022 and look forward to seeing the benefits for Suffolk businesses in the Platinum Jubilee year of the Queen.”