Over 65 million Cycling World Championships viewers tune in to see the South of Scotland at its best

Wellbeing Secretary Mairi McAllan and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Mairi Gougeon joined South of Scotland Cycling Partners, as well as Esther Tacke and Warren Sanders of local business Galloway Cycling Holidays, to mark the economic impact of 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in the South of Scotland.

Over 65million broadcast viewers from across the globe watched the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships events hosted in the South of Scotland.

The biggest and most important cycling event in history also provided a direct economic impact worth £8m to the region.

The Championships also brought over 1,000 elite cyclists to compete in the South last August, with 470 volunteers assisting the Para-Cycling road events in Dumfries & Galloway and Mountain Bike Cross-country and Mountain Bike Cross-country marathon events at Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders.

The figures – collated by specific economic and social impact assessments – are included in the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership annual review, which was presented to the Convention of the South of Scotland at Dumfries & Galloway College.  UCI South of Scotland infographic

Partners were joined by Esther Tacke and Warren Sanders of Galloway Cycling Holidays, whose experience and passion for cycling has provided positive economic, environmental and social impact on the region for visitors and local community.

The hosting of the Championships was one of a number of notable achievements in 2023 by the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership, whose 10 year strategy aims to make the region one of the leading cycling destinations in the world.

Achievements noted in the review include the South becoming the first region in Scotland to achieve the UCI Bike Region Label, which recognises the commitment to both elite cycling competition and cycling for all.

There was also the digital launch of the Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast cycle route which offers 250 miles of uninterrupted joy for experienced cyclists from Stranraer to Eyemouth.

The Kirkpatrick C2C was launched digitally last summer.

There was the development and opening of a number of active travel paths, including the opening of the Eddleston Water Path in the Borders and Keir, Penpont & Thornhill’s Nithsdale Path.

Last year was the first in a series of multi-year investments to deliver the Tweed Trail – a new long-distance trail running along the length of the River Tweed from Moffat to Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

There was also the £300,000 South of Scotland Cycling Infrastructure Fund run by South of Scotland Enterprise, which is now fully allocated.

The region also hosted the Mountain Biking Innovation & Technology Summit in August 2023 with 200 delegates from across the world attending, and a range of community and social enterprise-led projects moving forward, such as Galashiels Hike and Bike Hub, Wheels of Fleet and Newcastleton Bunk House.

The South of Scotland Cycling Partnership is made up of a series of local and national organisations representing thousands of people across the region.

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan said:

“We already know that the South of Scotland played an outstanding role in delivering the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, and my thanks go to the businesses, communities and people – particularly volunteers – who made this happen.

“This assessment shows just how beneficial they were to the regional economy, and to showcasing the many unique and diverse attractions the region has for international audiences, visitors and investors. I am confident the event has left a legacy in encouraging more people to visit, explore and stay, boosting the regional economy still further.

“I look forward to working closely with South of Scotland Enterprise, local authorities and partners across the South of Scotland to build on this huge success story, and make sure we continue to maximise the huge social and economic benefits the region can continue to unlock.”

Councillor Ian Blake, Chair of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Communities Committee said:

“The Para-Cycling World Road Race and Time Trials which took place here in Dumfries and Galloway were a superb success for our Council, and the region as a whole.

“It was an honour to host a world class event and I know from speaking to some of the athletes and support teams that they enjoyed their time in D&G too.

“It provided a wonderful boost to the area, both in terms of economy and morale and I’m very proud that we got to show off our region on the worldwide stage.”

Councillor Jackie McCamon, Vice Chair of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Communities Committee continued:

“The economic impact of the event both locally and nationally was off the scale. We had hotels and self-catering accommodation full, shops, eating establishments, cafes and pubs saw greater footfall and the local communities really embraced the events.

“The UCI Para-Cycling World Championships has left a legacy here in Dumfries & Galloway that will be remembered for many a year to come.”

Councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said:

“This past year has seen significant progress across the region as we work together towards the ambitious goals of the South of Scotland Cycling Strategy.

“We must continue to build on the momentum that has been built up and continue to invest and deliver the key projects which will help us fully harness the power of the bike for the good of our residents, businesses and communities.”

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of SOSE, said:

“The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships was a hugely positive experience for the South and continues to be so, and these economic impact figures emphasise why partners worked so hard to bring it to our region.

“We have much more to do now and in future if we are to embed cycling into the daily fabric of the lives of local residents and experiences of our visitors, but we are determined to work with businesses and communities to achieve this collective aim.”

David Hope-Jones OBE, Paula Ward & Markus Stitz at the official launch of the naming of the Kirkpatrick C2C. Photocredit Phil Wilkinson

David Hope-Jones, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said: 

“The 2023 UCI Championships really put the South of Scotland – the ‘Home of the Bike’ – on the global stage as one of the most exceptional destinations in the world for two-wheeled adventures, generating huge excitement locally and introducing millions of at-home viewers to our incredible region.

“Well-run major events like this are so crucial for the tourism and hospitality sector and the success of these championships in the South of Scotland should serve as an inspiring blueprint for organisers seeking the perfect location for future large-scale events.”

Gordon Smith, Destination Development Director at VisitScotland, said:

“We know the potential for growth in the South of Scotland’s reputation as a leading global cycling destination, which has only been strengthened by its involvement in the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

“Cycling is an important part of our national sustainable tourism ambitions and the events of last year will provide a springboard to develop further visitor experiences which could inspire even more visitors to the region.”

After taking on an incredible cycle around the world over four years and 32,000 miles, couple Esther Tacke and Warren Sanders decided to settle in Galloway, bringing to the area all their experience and passion for cycling.

As well as operating Galloway Cycling Holidays, the couple have been involved in the creation of the Raiders Gravel event – a four-day gravel festival which takes riders deep into the wilderness of the Galloway Forest Park – and helping bring The Gralloch UCI World Series gravel event to Gatehouse of Fleet last year.

Both events are long term and have a strong emphasis on sustainability and protecting, conserving and promoting the natural surroundings

Esther Tacke added:

“The South of Scotland has a massive potential to be a cycling destination, not just for mountain biking, but for leisure, gravel and road.

“We have a playground that is unique on the national and international market, and we can harness that if we invest into it – not just one aspect of cycling, but the whole spectrum of it.”

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