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Ilkley Council leads bid to ‘cash in’ on the Tour de France
Councillors are working on a strategy to help Ilkley make the most of an expected surge in tourism surrounding the 2014 Tour de France visit.
International cycling fans and teams supporting the riders could visit the town as early as this summer, Ilkley Parish Council heard this week, and the town needs to be ready for the extra visitors.
Members of the local council are planning talks with Ilkley Cycling Club and tourism businesses, and two councillors plan to bring their proposals back to the council this spring.
Millions of television viewers could see Ilkley when the Grand Depart races through town next July, the council heard at its meeting on Monday, and world media representatives will need to stay in the area during coverage of the high-profile race.
But fans of cycling are planning to visit Wharfedale to ride the route earlier than this, councillors were told, and those involved in the race may make early visits to the area to familiarise themselves with the route.
The Grand Depart will pass though Otley and Ilkley on July 5, and make another pass through the valley the following day, going through Addingham on its way south.
Councillor Bryan Websdale and Councillor Andrew Bowles are working on initial proposals on how the town will welcomes the influx of visitors and make the most of the opportunities offered to the area.
Coun Websdale, who is leading the initiative, said he was keen to have something in place quickly.
He said: “I think the run-up to the event is going to be key. A lot of people will be coming to the area to do recces and cycle the route. I’m keen to make sure the town is keen to welcome these people before the event.”
The council’s vice-chairman, Councillor Mike Gibbons, said he had discussed the Tour de France with the Craiglands Hotel manager, who pointed out media representatives would need to stay locally.
Councillor Gordon Perry said he already knew of cycling fans abroad who wanted to come to Ilkley earlier in the year.
“I think it’s going to be potentially quite a big deal for trade and for tourism for the town for the whole of the summer,” he said.