An international cycling event hosted in East Suffolk was worth an estimated £600,000 to the local economy, according to study of visitor numbers and related expenditure.
Thousands of spectators attended the UCI Masters Cyclo-Cross World Championships between Friday 2 and Sunday 4 December.
The free event was supported by East Suffolk Council and staged at Trinity Park for the second successive year, featuring more than 600 competitors from 20 different nations, riding laps of a 3km circuit of trails and obstacles.
An evaluation report, commissioned by East Suffolk Council and Suffolk Growth Partnership, has since estimated the total net impact of the event on the local economy to be worth £601,850, based on the expenditure of participants, spectators, event organisers, contractors and staff.
Research found that about two-thirds of competitors (64%) visited from outside Suffolk and stayed overnight; with most of those polled (79%) rating their visit highly or very highly, three-quarters (77%) likely to recommend the county as a place to visit, and about two thirds (65%) likely or very likely to visit again in the future.
Meanwhile, the total combined net impact of expenditure by participants and the weekend’s estimated 6,000 spectators was £499,238, according to the research, including accommodation, food and drink, shopping, off-site entertainment and transport.
Combined with total net spend by staff contracted by the event organisers, either directly or indirectly, and total net expenditure associated with the organisation of the event, the overall net impact on the Suffolk economy was estimated to be £601,850.
As well as Olympians, national champions and some of the best Cyclo-Cross age category riders in the world, the event featured a support programme of open races for local riders of all ages, as well as a Special Olympics Cyclo-Cross event.
Ahead of the main event, on Thursday 1 December, schools in the Ipswich and South Suffolk School Games partnership also came together for a morning of cycling activity organised in partnership between Active Suffolk, British Cycling, East Suffolk Council and the Elmy Cycles.
Youngsters who may not regularly participate in school sport were given the chance to take part in a carousel of activity that included the involvement of the Suffolk RoadSafe partnership, Suffolk Constabulary, schools outreach organisation Kinetic Science, art organisation Rock Paper Scissors, British Cycling and Loose Cannon's Conditioning.
Chris Blundell, East Suffolk councillor for Martlesham and Purdis Farm, was in attendance and presented medals on each day of the event.
Cllr Letitia Smith, East Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, who also attended the event and presented medals to the winners on the final day, said:
“I’m delighted to see that the UCI Masters Cyclo-Cross World Championships had such a positive impact on the local economy.
“It is testament to the hard work and ambition of the organisers to make the event such a success.
“I had the pleasure of attending the event and presenting medals to some of the winners, so I could see for myself how well it was received by those in attendance.
“I hope the event also inspired more people to share the longer-term economic, environmental, social and health benefits of taking up cycling.”
Event organiser, Steve Grimwood, of Elmy Cycles, said:
“To have the chance to welcome so many visitors from all over the world to Suffolk has been an absolute honour.
“We are passionate about promoting cycling, and to promote events that cater for all ages and abilities is a truly fantastic opportunity.
“We have a long history of promoting world class events in Suffolk and the UCI World Masters was no exception.
“We appreciate all the help and assistance provided by East Suffolk Council, Trinity Park, the Eastern Cyclo Cross Association and all of our sponsors and providers."
Richard Hunt, Suffolk Growth’s Strategic Lead for the Visitor Economy, who co-commissioned the research, said:
“The report demonstrates the economic significance of attracting and nurturing the development of these type of events to Suffolk.
“The array of domestic and international visitors with their friends and families brought new spending into the local economy and support for local business. The event and the Suffolk experience left visitors with a taste to return.
“Suffolk Growth’s intention is to work with all local authorities and stakeholders in 2023 to maximise the potential from events and festivals.”
Gareth Davies, Director of Active Suffolk, said:
“It’s great to see that the UCI World masters event had such a positive impact on the local economy. This is, yet again, compelling evidence of the economic value of sport and physical activity.
“Of equal importance was the inspiration our young people took from riding part of a World Championship course in the presence of the highly skilled riders.
“The collaboration of partners that worked tirelessly to develop and deliver the event evident. As well as visiting a World Championship event, local schools participated in inclusive and appealing activities and educational sessions. The engagement between organisers and children was outstanding with one young person even learning to ride a bike for the first time”.
In recent years, Suffolk has played host to many prestigious cyclo-cross events, including the UEC European Championships in 2012, and multiple British Cycling National Cyclo-Cross Championships and National Trophy Series events, as well as hosting the UCI Women’s Tour and Men’s Tour on numerous occasions.
[Photo by Basil Thornton]