BRINGING the Tour de France to Edinburgh could mean a bumper £24 million pay day for the city, it has emerged.
City chiefs are expected to back a UK bid that would see the world’s most famous cycle race come to Scotland for the first time, with the starting pistol set to sound in Edinburgh.
Under the proposal, Edinburgh Castle would host the presentation of the riders two days before the official start of the event, won last year by British Olympian Bradley Wiggins.
A full day of public cycling events would then be held the day before the Grand Depart, which would begin with a low-speed ride through the city before the formal race starting, taking the riders down the spine of the UK.
Attracting the world’s largest annual sporting event would be worth £45m-55m to the national economy, with around £24m expected to be spent in the Capital.
The last time the Tour visited Britain was in 2007, when two days of racing in London and Kent drew crowds of more than two million.
Councillors will meet on Wednesday to approve a report setting out the commitments needed should the UK bid be successful.
City events champion Councillor Steve Cardownie 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.”
The bid is being led by EventScotland with the support of the Scottish Government, British Cycling, UK Sport, the Welsh Government and other local authorities.
Graham Birse, of Edinburgh Napier Business School, said hosting the race would promote Edinburgh around the world. He said: “It would be great for cycling fans in Edinburgh to see their heroes but also commercially it makes sense because of the backdrop the city provides.”
The date is likely to be in the next five years, with the potential for it to be as soon as 2014.