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A major economic boost for the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean is predicted from ‘cycle tourism’ following Team GB’s Olympic success and as the ‘Tour of Britain’ rolls through the area on 8th September.
Tourism chiefs estimate that people coming to the area to enjoy cycling is worth £16m a year, representing a major element of the £300m total that visitors contribute to the economy of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean.
Based on present rates of growth this will deliver £32m by the end of 2020, doubling the value of cycle tourism to the area.
Increased participation prompted by cycling success in the last three Olympic Games and the general growth in the sport, combined with the area’s recognition as one of the finest cycling destinations in the UK means an expected increase the number of peddlers heading to the roads and trails of the area.
Ian Officer of Pedalabikeaway and Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism said: “Cycling has been a key reason for new visitors to the area for the past five years.
“We see day visitors from the Midlands, South Wales and from along the M4 corridor to London. The quality of what we can offer also brings in international visitors who stay for several days.
“An entirely new trail has been added this year, others are being extended and further investment will improve the signage on the Family Trail and increase car parking spaces.”
Including mountain biking, across the UK some 149 million day-trips and 1.23 million overnight cycle trips are taken, contributing £2.3bn to the economy. Tourism is the UK’s 5th largest industry with an increasing trend towards multiple trips a year and more people staying in the UK versus venturing overseas.
Cycling visitor numbers to the area are reported to be between 10 and 15% up for 2016 so far – before the ‘Olympic-effect’ inspires more to ‘get on their bike’ and the Tour of Britain again drives interest.
Featuring elite cyclists like Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish the Tour highlights the quality of the area as a cycling destination and the route takes in some of the most spectacular views and landmarks.
The Tour of Britain is the premier cycling event and the largest free to speculate annual sporting occasion in the UK. Thousands will line the route of Stage 8 on Thursday 8th September when the spectacle travels through the area.
Celebrating the Tour of Britain and the warm welcome extended to all bikers is a Cycle Art Trail created by members of the tourism association.
The destination caters to cyclists of all types and abilities. There is an estimated 72km of waymarked cycle trails in Forestry Commission sites across the region with the ‘Family Cycle Trail’ alone being enjoyed by 120,000 riders a year. The Little Fodder Kids Club at PedalaBikeAway is one of the fastest growing clubs affiliated to British Cycling.
The ‘Verderers’ seven-mile (11km) Cross Country Trail, rated as one of the best trails in the country, attracts up to 70,000 riders a year. Investment in off-road routes continues with recent extensions to the ‘Freeminer’s’ Trail as well as ‘Launchpad’ which was designed specifically for gravity bikes, an extreme form of off-road wheelchairs.
Tintern Abbey, not only on the route of the Tour of Britain is also a feature location for the cycle route for those cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.