Economic impact of major UCI cycling events in 2019

Jul 9, 2020, 15:16 PM

In 2019, the UCI World Championships and UCI World Cups engaged 7,000 athletes from 99 countries across 78 events, reveals an EY report commissioned by cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

For competitive athletes, UCI events represent one of the biggest sporting opportunities of the season: the title of UCI World Champion brings with it the privilege of wearing the prestigious rainbow-striped jersey for the following season. Meanwhile, the special jersey won by the leader of a UCI World Cup marks out the rider to beat in the battle for the overall series win.

Thanks to the popularity of these events among the athletes, teams, National Federations and fans alike, host cities and regions can reap significant rewards, among them a boost to both the local economy and their image.

That was the finding of a study commissioned by the UCI and conducted by professional services firm EY for the second year running (2018 study available here). The 2019 study centred on four of the UCI’s events: the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire (Great Britain), the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Bogense (Denmark), the UCI BMX World Championships in Heusden-Zolder (Belgium), and the eighth round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole (Italy).

The study found that these four events generated an extra €38.2 million in local economic activity in the host cities and regions.

Held in Yorkshire between 22 and 29 of September, the 2019 UCI Road World Championships were a case in point: 

  • The event contributed around €28.2 million to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Harrogate and the Yorkshire region, the equivalent of 710 jobs (annually).
  • Visitors accounted for 80% of the impact of the UCI World Championships.
  • The hotel industry benefited more than any other from spending by foreign visitors, who spent an average of €48 per night as part of an average daily spend of €117.
  • Yorkshire made a big impact on visitors, with 86% of them saying they saw the region as a future holiday destination.
  • Yorkshire enjoyed increased visibility thanks to a total TV audience of 329 million (compared to 250 million in 2018) in 118 countries (100 in 2018).

The same applies to the other UCI events that formed part of the 2019 study: the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Bogense, the UCI BMX World Championships in Heusden-Zolder, and the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup round in Val di Sole respectively contributed approximately €3.6 million, €4.1 million and €2.3 million to the GDP of the host cities and regions, while also leaving a sustainable cycling legacy.

UCI President David Lappartient declared: “2019 was another year of thrilling and truly global competitions, with close to one hundred nationalities represented across the UCI events of our eight disciplines. The second edition of the EY study conducted in collaboration with our Federation has confirmed the economic benefits our events generate for host cities and their regions during and after competition. There is no doubt that UCI World Championships and UCI World Cups are strong drivers of local economic activity in terms of cycling and visitors.”

Peter Arnold, Partner in EY’s UK Economic Advisory team, comments: “In 2019, UCI competitions continued to exemplify the benefits that can be brought to local economies by cycling events. Host regions saw strong attendances driving economic activity, while their profiles were raised through engagement with domestic and international audiences. Beyond the immediate boost to expenditure, the legacy of these cycling events can have wide-reaching socioeconomic benefits. These range from improved health outcomes from encouraging local residents to participate in more sport to sustained increases in tourism.”

Click here to read the EY study