BRINGING the Tour de France to Scotland for the first time could be worth up to £55 million to the nation’s economy, it has emerged.
A new report on a bid which would see Edinburgh host two days of events before the first stage gets under way as the potential to generate £24 million for the capital alone.
That would make the bid, which has the backing of both British Cycling and UK Sport, worth almost as much as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
The council faces having to fork out as much as £1 million to host the event, with the Scottish Government understood to have pledged £3 million. Organisers have already visited the city on a recce and to discuss the logistics of a possible bid with local officials.
However the value of worldwide television coverage of the event getting underway with a two-day celebration at Edinburgh Castle esplanade is said to be worth £4 million alone.
The new report, published by the city council, states that hosting the “grand depart” event in Edinburgh may fill as many as 10,000 hotel beds. Councillors will be asked to officially endorse the bid on Thursday.
The Scottish bid - which is being led by government agency EventScotland - would see the official race get underway on the outskirts of the capital before heading to either Dumfries or Newcastle.
The tour - which last came to Britain in 2007 - is also expected to visit parts of England and Wales, with a major selling point being an effort to take the race to within an hour’s travel of half the population of Britain.
A rival bid, which would see the entire first stage held across Yorkshire, is also being considered by race organisers ASO, who are expected to make a decision by the end of the year.
Stuart Turner, international events director at EventScotland said: “The Tour de France is the worlds greatest bike race and Edinburgh would undoubtedly be the perfect stage for the grand depart.
“The benefits associated with the race are well documented with a strong economic impact, huge international profile and exciting opportunities for cycling development.”
Steve Cardownie, the council’s festivals and events champion, said: “Edinburgh is known the world over as a premier events destination – and with good reason.
“I can think of no more dramatic backdrop than Edinburgh Castle and our historic Old Town and, of course, our residents are well used to laying on a fantastic welcome to the many millions of visitors that travel to the city each year.
“The value that our festivals bring to the local and Scottish economy is well known and an event of the Tour de France’s stature would be no different – generating somewhere in the region of £50m.
“Add to that, the profile and exposure that the associated media coverage would bring with it and it becomes a startling proposition.
“Of course, Edinburgh is no stranger to cycling success, thanks to the incredible achievements of Sir Chris Hoy, and we are already seeing the impact this is having on participation – a trend that would surely continue following a successful grand depart.”