I was delighted to receive the fantastic news last week that Doncaster is to be a host town for the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire. This is another coup for Doncaster and will be a real boost to our tourism offer next year.
The announcement has been very well received by local people, businesses and cycling groups, and it is something we can all get excited about. It will be held over three days during bank holiday weekend at the start of May. Doncaster will be one of six towns hosting a start or finish. We are really look forward to December, when we will find out what day the race will come to Doncaster, as well as the full route, so we can well and truly get preparations under way.
Cycling is hugely popular, and Yorkshire is becoming a hotbed for the sport. The inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, earlier this year, was a great success and we are aware of the fantastic atmosphere the Tour de France brought to the county, not to mention significant economic benefits.
In 2014, the Grand Depart of the Tour de France delivered over £100m in revenue in Yorkshire alone and raised the profile of the area enormously as a visitor destination. Although on a smaller scale, the Tour de Yorkshire is also making a big impact. As one of the hosts last year, Scarborough estimated that the event brought more than 7,000 visitors to the town from outside the area and more than £700,000 in direct economic benefits.
In fact, they thought it was so good that they bid for, and won, the right for the Tour to return to the town once again. We believe bringing the event to Doncaster will be well worth the investment made. Now it is our chance to grab the opportunity, make it a day to remember and reap the benefits for our borough.
As well as economic benefits, I also hope we can harness the enthusiasm generated by the event, along with our other cycling activities, to encourage more people to get involved in cycling and the benefits it brings in health and wellbeing.
Of course, as well as raising the profile of Doncaster, our history and local towns and villages, the Tour de Yorkshire is also a great way of raising awareness of our fantastic local attractions.
On that note, it was fantastic to see the Yorkshire Wildlife Park continue their expansion this week as they welcomed a third polar bear, Nissan, to Doncaster.
The park is becoming a national attraction and it is no surprise that director of the park Cheryl Williams has been named UK Private Businesswoman of the Year. She beat hundreds of entries from across the country to pick up the prestigious national title at the UK Private Business Awards 2015.
Well done to Cheryl, everyone involved, and, as for Nissan, welcome to Doncaster!