Cyclists have delivered a £743,000 economic boost to the Scottish Highlands, an independent study into the 2015 Etape Loch Ness sportive has found.
The independent economic impact assessment carried out by Mackay Consultants Inverness found that 68% of participants came from outside the Highlands, a 20% increase on the previous year. A total of 3,328 riders entered the 66-mile closed road sportive – an increase of 166% on the inaugural event in 2014 – and 92% of participants said they would take part again.
Riders who completed the ride on April 27 for charity raised £228,000 for a range of good causes, with official charity Macmillan Cancer Support raising £170,000 - more than double the amount raised last year.
Event director Malcolm Sutherland says the report underlines the importance of mass participation sports events to the Highlands, especially on the shoulder months leading up to the main tourist season.
He adds, “The report confirms what we have always believed – that events such as Etape Loch Ness can be a significant driver for the local economy. The statistics show that people are travelling to the area and when they are here, they are using local accommodation providers, cafes and restaurants, and other facilities.
“It is also pleasing to note that the 2015 Etape Loch Ness resulted in a significant economic benefit of £507,000 for Scotland in addition to the benefit to the Highlands. The whole of Scotland and not just the Highlands enjoys a spin off from the event.
“However, one of the most significant figures for us is the amount of money that riders have been able to raise for charity. Good causes have benefited to the tune of £228,000 from fundraising by event participants, and we are delighted that £170,000 of this total was raised for our official charity, Macmillan Cancer Support.”
Cecilia Owen, Challenge Events Programme Manager (Cycling) for Macmillan, adds, “We are delighted to be official charity for Etape Loch Ness once again. The event was a huge success last year and we look forward to welcoming even more cyclists to Team Macmillan from all around the UK to help ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.”
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, says, “2015 has been a very successful year for the Etape Loch Ness with record spectator and participant numbers. The Etape brings great benefits to the Highlands, and indeed Scotland, generating economic impact and positioning the country as the perfect stage for mass participation events.”
The Etape Loch Ness starts and finishes in Inverness, and follows the main A82 on the north side of the loch to Fort Augustus. It then returns to the Highland capital via minor roads on the south side.
The sportive includes a King of the Mountain stage, which recognises the quickest male and female riders to the top of the Glendoe Summit on the outskirts of Fort Augustus. The 4.8 mile climb rises to 380m in height.
Organisers expect to open for entries for the 2016 Etape Loch Ness, taking place on 24 April, in late October. Anyone interested in taking part should pre-register their interest at www.etapelochness.com to get priority entry before places go on general sale.
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