FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The business of grand tours going abroad for their big starts is booming. Dutch province Gelderland underlined this Tuesday when it reported an $8.9 million economic impact from the 2016 Giro d’Italia’s visit.
Italy’s big tour travelled 1,000 kilometers north to start in the city of Apeldoorn this May. Including the days beforehand, it spent a week in the cycling-mad Netherlands. The numbers make sense.
“The province of Gelderland and its organizational partners Apeldoorn, Arnhem, and Nijmegen, look back with satisfaction at the start of the Giro,” Jan Markink, deputy sports of the province of Gelderland said in a report. “The objectives were achieved and it created many positive results.”
The results mean that more and more the grand tours are going abroad. The 2017 Tour de France starts in Düsseldorf, Germany, and the Vuelta a España in Nîmes, France.
Giro organizer RCS Sport keeps the numbers secret, but the Gelderland would have paid around €4 million ($4.2m) to host the event. That amount would have been in the reported €12,462,000 ($13,277,014) budget for the province.
“It was definitely worth it if you look at the stages we had,” Dimitri Bonthuis, the media officer for the Giro in Gelderland, told VeloNews in May.
The province hosted other sporting events, the track World Cup and the volleyball European championships, “but this is the biggest so far.”
Tuesday’s report said the province had to trim the budget back €390,000 from the initial €12.85 million, but it still came away with an €8.387 million ($8.9m) in economic impact.
The province welcomed 482,500 visitors and television beamed images of the race, and the province’s 33 iconic sites, to 72 million people in Europe. At the time, Giro d’Italia cycling director Mauro Vegni called it the “best” grand tour start abroad that he organized.
“We not only celebrated a pink party,” added Markink, “but realized pretty [good] business for the long term.”
The grand tour organizers love the business abroad because at home in Italy, France, and Spain, they struggle to readily find the same money for the big starts. The countries tend to undervalue the sport they made so popular and, a much bigger problem, have yet to fully recover from the Eurozone crisis.
England, Northern Ireland, and the Netherlands put their full weight behind the grand tours that they recently hosted. The Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire in 2014 almost suffered from its own success when fans crowded the small country roads and left little space for passing cyclists.
The 2014 Yorkshire start and third stage down to London required a £27m ($33.6m) budget, but it had an economic impact of £128 million ($159.3m) on the host regions. Dutch city Utrecht estimated an economic impact of €23 million ($24.5m) from the 2015 Tour’s visit.
The organizers cannot turn away from the opportunity afforded by international starts. In the last 20 years, the Tour has begun abroad 10 times. Prior to the 1970s, the organizer barely took its crown jewel over the border.
“If you show a good product, the people see it and want it,” Vegni said. “There are many people asking to host the Giro. Ireland is asking to have it again. And I won’t even mention those countries outside of Europe …”
The 2017 Giro begins in Sardinia, but the 2018 route should once again draw on foreign funds and fans.