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Leisure cycling tourism worth half a billion pounds to British economy

Tourism bodies quantify spend for first time - cycling ahead of golf and fishing

Tourism related to leisure cycling is worth half a billion pounds a year to the British economy according to new figures released by VisitEngland.

The tourism body, which compiled the data alongside sister agencies VisitScotland and VisitWales, says it’s the first time the value generated by a wide range of leisure activities has been quantified.

The figures were revealed at the annual ABTA Convention, taking place this year in Costa Navarino, Greece.

They reveal that leisure cycling generates £520 million a year to the tourism industry, ahead of golf (£456 million), fishing (£274 million) and watersports (£317 million).

But those figures are dwarfed by the money spent by people going to watch live sporting events, at £3.2 billion, while visitor attractions top the chart with £3.8 billion generated by domestic visitors alone.

Wales brings in £52 million annually from leisure tourism related to cycling and mountain biking, while in Scotland it’s unsurprisingly golf that punches above its weight, with domestic spend of £90 million.

VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: “This new research is welcome news, confirming the huge contribution that the variety of leisure activities in this country make to the economy.

“Trips motivated by activities such as walking and cycling generate a massive associated spend, as people are willing to travel around the country to take part in them and that is something businesses can tap into to drive growth by offering new and exciting experiences,” he added.

Although in some parts of the UK popular with cyclists such as North Wales, Surrey and the New Forest there is small but vocal opposition to organised cycling events – with acts of sabotage such as sprinkling tacks on the road an all too common occurrence – the figures do highlight the benefit that bike riders, and their spending power, bring to the tourist economy.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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