THE Cape Town Cycle Tour brought R450 million to local coffers in 2014, according to the city, and is set do the same this year.
“March is the busiest month in terms of the number of events being hosted in our city. Due to these events, 37 500 full-time and 15 100 part-time jobs in the tourism sector are sustained,” mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing Garreth Bloor said.
He said the Cycle Tour would see 39 percent of participants from outside the Western Cape, with 3 032 international entries from 97 countries making their way to Cape Town for Sunday’s event.
“In addition to the revenue stream, the global media exposure for the Mother City is phenomenal,” he added.
Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the province’s premier cycling events, including the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the Cape Rouleur and the Absa Cape Epic, contributed R760m to the local economy.
Winde will also attempt to complete his eighth Cycle Tour.
“As part of our Cycling Tourism Strategy, it is my goal to attract 100 000 cycling tourists to the Western Cape each year. The cycling economy adds jobs in the tourism industry, in our rural spaces and in the cycling goods supply industry. It also starts to shift minds around different modes of transport,” he said.
Cape Chamber of Commerce president Janine Myburgh said March was “Cycle Tour month”.
“It is the second busiest month at our airport, only surpassed by December. People are spending money, going to restaurants, they’re looking for accommodation,” she said.
She said the period marked a “boom” for the local economy.
Meanwhile, there has been a mixed reaction from cyclists to the event being drastically shortened from 109km to 47km due to the effects of this week’s raging fires in the southern peninsula. Cycle Tour Trust director David Bellairs said the organisers had done what they could to ensure the safety of cyclists and salvage the race.
“The majority of local participants have embraced it. But those from upcountry have to decide to take a plane here or not. The vast majority understand this was done to make sure the race was not cancelled,” he said.
Women’s Cycle Tour defending champion Cherise Stander, widow of late Olympic mountain biker Burry, suggested that the Tour prize money be donated to the firefighters.
“It is a tragedy that has happened in Cape Town. I think people who don’t understand are removed from the situation. It is important for us as cyclists to stand together in the light of this. It’s now about more than the event, it’s about the people whose lives have been affected,” she said.
Seven-time Tour winner Anriette Schoeman said she would be at the starting line on Sunday in solidarity with those affected by the fires, and also called for the prize money to be handed to firefighters.
“This disaster is bigger than this event and I am heartbroken but happy to be in Cape Town and part of it,” she said.