Olympics and Tour of Britain give £51 million boost to Surrey economy

Fans descend on county for Olympic time trials and road races plus Tour of Britain finale

by Simon_MacMichael   December 13, 2012  

Fans in Surrey for the Olympic men's road race (copyright britishcycling.org.uk)

Surrey County Council has revealed that the county’s hosting of the Olympic road races as well as the final stage of the Tour of Britain this summer were worth an estimated £51 million to the local economy.

The Olympics alone, where Surrey roads were lined with an estimated 1 million fans as they provided most of the route of the road races and time trial brought in some £41 million. Average spend was put at £38 for day-trippers and £75 for those who stayed overnight, reports BBC News.

While the vast majority were there to cheer on British riders such as Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Armitstead, there were plenty from overseas there too.

Some Dutch women we spoke to near Box Hill on the day of the men’s road race were happy to give their support to Niki Terpstra and co that afternoon, but the main event for them was 24 hours later when they hoped to cheer Marianne Vos to victory – they got their wish, of course.

Cavendish may have missed out on Olympic gold, but Guildford was similarly thronged for the finale of the Tour of Britain, where the overall was won by Endura Racing’s Jon Tiernan-Locke, who will ride for Team Sky in 2013. According to the council, some 225,000 people watched that stage along the 90-mile route, bringing in £7.2 million.

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for community services, told the BBC: "The decision to invest in the Olympics and the Tour of Britain has paid off to the tune of £51 million.

"We were criticised three years ago when we were appointed an Olympics co-ordinator, but we persevered because we knew the Games had the potential for huge economic and cultural benefits in Surrey.

"The figures speak for themselves, with millions of pounds generated for the economy and pictures of Surrey beamed to television sets throughout the world, providing a boost for tourism.

"That success was furthered by the Tour of Britain and we look forward to hosting it again next year," she added. The route of next year’s race won’t officially be revealed until next year, but organisers SweetSpot – whose contract expires in 2013 – who are based in the county have already signed a contract with the council for the race to return in September.

That’s not the only high-profile cycling event that Surrey will host next year – the closing day of the inaugural Ride London Olympic legacy event next August, run by a joint venture between SweetSpot and the company that organises the London Marathon, will see elite riders and up to 20,000 amateurs tackle the Olympic road race route.

According to the BBC, tourism bodies and hotels in the county have said they are seeing bookings from cyclists who want to ride on the same roads as Olympic stars such as Bradley Wiggins, winner of gold in the time trial.

Sue Punter, chief executive of Surrey Chambers of Commerce, also highlighted the boost the Olympics had given to the local economy.

"In the lead up there was a huge amount of money from the Olympic contracts,” she revealed.

"People weren't supposed to talk about it at the time but they are now more willing to speak.

"There will be some smaller businesses that will have struggled a bit because people have spent on other things rather than their services," she added.

"Overall, certainly I can say there has been a positive feeling about the Olympics from the business community."