Thursday, 3 July 2014

Tour De France - boost to business in Leeds ?

As most people will know over the next few days Leeds is celebrating the kick off of the 2014 Tour in Yorkshire.

This event has been 'bigged' up by Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire Tourist Board for many months in Leeds to the point where Tour news is now a regular feature both in the local media and also in general public discussion.

Aside from the 'fun' of watching 200 cyclists shoot past you in a little over 45 seconds (having stood waiting for that for over two hours) that you get from any sporting event the whole thing has been sold to business as a massive boost for anyone involved in the tourism and related industries.

However, I live around two miles from the route on Saturday and speaking to local restauranteurs they tell me that the event is costing them a fortune. They are not on the route but near enough so that logically you would imagine that tourists would want to eat before, during or following the tour viewing. There are a number of problems though.

Road closures mean that unless you are within walking distance patrons will not be able to get to the restaurant. Some local eateries in Otley and Ilkley are I am informed having to pay to put their staff up in local B & B's on Friday and Saturday as otherwise they fear their cooks and waiters won't be able to get in to work and if you're on a road which is closed around an event people won't have the opportunity to find you in the first place.

One restauranteur friend I spoke to on Tuesday night told me that he was considering closing his place on Saturday, the main night of the Tour in Yorkshire.

To go give you an idea of the effect of summer sports on restaurants. During the recent England : Uruguay football match (that kicked off around 4.00pm on a sunny afternoon) my friend told me that they took a total of £ 300 all night - less than the salary cost of the nine staff they have on during that night in the week.

So glorious summer sport might lift the mood but don't let the authorities fool you into thinking that the money spent hosting this kind of event from our council tax does anything except host a cool party.

Also spare a thought to those people travelling home from central Leeds this evening to the North of the city (Headingly, West Park etc). The opening event of the tour kicks off in Leeds Arena from 4.00pm this evening culminating in the riders parading through the city. Road Blocks are in place to the North of Leeds centre from mid afternoon today and it's going to be bedlam getting home tonight !


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