North Yorkshire County Council had already agreed to back the Tour with £100,000 and the council’s Executive has now agreed to make a further £100,000 available if needed to ensure it can go ahead.
The commitment means planning for the Tour de Yorkshire and a new Festival of Yorkshire organised by Welcome to Yorkshire can now move forwards.
The festival will focus on the food, drink, heritage and arts that make the county so distinctive. It is scheduled to take place in 2022 and is seen by the authority as a key opportunity to help the region’s economy recover from the pressures of the pandemic.
The race itself is also seen by councillors as pivotal in helping the region’s economy bounce back after the pandemic and it will have the distinction of being the country’s first non-ticketed mass participation event in the UK since Covid-19 struck.
The Tour de Yorkshire has become an institution on the sporting calendar since it was introduced by Welcome to Yorkshire. The council say creating a broader festival "provides an opportunity to gain wider exposure for Yorkshire’s attractions and bring growth to the visitor economy".
The Tour has been missing for two years because of the pandemic, but in 2019 it reached a global audience of 28 million, with almost two million spectators lining the route in person. Independent research demonstrated the race boosted the Yorkshire economy by £60m and organisers say it is hoped to capitalise on that potential next year.
North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Resources, Cllr Gareth Dadd, said:
“This decision helps to secure the economic recovery of North Yorkshire and the wider Yorkshire region. There has never been a more critical moment to stand up for North Yorkshire and the region and to do our bit to help drive lasting economic recovery.
“A vibrant cultural calendar, showcasing the very best of our outstanding food, drink, heritage and culture will have a big role to play in that.
“We have already pledged a £100,000 contribution to the rescheduled event – funds originally generated from business rate surpluses and earmarked to support economic development.
“These are incredibly difficult times for many businesses and organisations, as they fight to survive and get back on their feet after an unprecedented 15 months of pandemic. We have, therefore, agreed an additional sum of up to £100,000, which may not be needed. This would be a surety for Welcome to Yorkshire, which is organising the event, to ensure it is able to go ahead if there is insufficient sponsorship. Time is not on our side here. Planning must progress without delay.
“Setting aside the huge economic and profile-raising opportunities the festival and event will offer the whole Yorkshire region, there are also significant social benefits that surround the Tour itself. In North Yorkshire, we have seen repeatedly how communities come together to celebrate the spectacle. There are wide legacy impacts linked to the inclusive nature of the race itself and the inspiration it provides for our residents. Businesses linked to the cycling and the visitor economy benefit from increased spending and there is a unique feel-good factor in knowing the eyes of the world are on our beautiful county.”
The Executive also agreed that following the race the County Council should review the effectiveness of the sponsorship of the event and undertake a wider review of the principle of support for one-off events of this nature.