By Mark Zalewski
Savvy North American cycling fans already know that the Tour de Georgia has a gigantic impact on cycling on this side of the pond, but the positive effects are not always as clear. A recently released impact analysis conducted by the Community Policy and Research Services division at Georgia Tech's Economic Development and Technology Ventures revealed that the 2005 Tour de Georgia generated $36.2 million in economic impact for the state of Georgia and local communities.
Further, the report stated that nearly 800,000 people made the trip to the Peach State to watch Lance and Co. in person. Over half of these spectators either visited the ten communities that hosted official start or finish lines and festivities of the event or watched the race pass by at twenty additional locations, which hosted King of the Mountain or Sprint Line sites for the race. In addition to huge crowds who watched the race and participated in community festivals along the way, the Tour de Georgia attracted over 500 media members from across the U.S. and abroad, 4,000 volunteers for the week and 550 people in the official entourage, including 300 event staff and 250 athletes/support staff.
"Since its creation three years ago, the Tour de Georgia has become a major tourism event catapulting the state into the forefront of the world cycling scene and showcasing the way Georgia can rapidly transform a vision into reality," said GDEcD Commissioner Craig Lesser. "The race brings long-lasting economic energy to Georgia, as fans take home the story about their memorable experiences in our communities."
Heading up the study, William Riall, Ph.D. from Georgia Tech's Economic Development and Technology Ventures, utilized information from 1,386 intercept surveys in the report. In addition to the $36.2 million economic impact number, the impact analysis also showed that 43% of respondents were visiting Georgia from another state. When asked why both in-state and out-of-state visitors were visiting that part of Georgia, 65% said they had traveled to that community specifically to watch the race.
"The Tour de Georgia brought considerable resources into the state's economy in addition to the national publicity and the introduction of Georgia to many who perhaps knew very little about our state," said Riall. "This study does not include economic impact from the visitors along the route, which could be as high as $41 million." The $36.2 million, Riall explained, reflects the level of economic output that is considered to be the total business revenues generated by the new resources brought into the state by the visitors.
The positive results in this study should become another arrow in the quiver for future major North American races - particularly when people want to know why their driveway will be blocked for twenty minutes on a Tuesday afternoon.
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