FOLLOWING the success of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire business editor Laura Knowlson looks at the economic impact of major sporting events in York.

PROFESSIONAL sport means big business, from sponsorship deals to prize money, and tickets sales to wages, and not forgetting the ever soaring television rights deals, which see record breaking amounts of money exchanged with every passing year.

The growing industry is fuelled by the popularity of competitive sport world wide, with the potential to attract spectators linked to the potential to attract big money.

However its not just those directly involved in sport that benefit from its monetary value, as business in York and North Yorkshire have learnt over the past couple of years.

The city has benefitted from global coverage thanks to a number of high profile sporting events, which have attracted television crews and audiences of more than a million people to the region.

This weekend's inaugural Tour de Yorkshire is already estimated to have boosted York's economy by £1 million as 450,000 people watched the cycling spectacle from the city.

On a regional scale one-and-a-half million fans lined the roadside in Yorkshire, with TV coverage beaming the scenes to audiences in more than 150 countries, and an economic impact of between £30 and £40 million for the county.

The international cycling fixture, which is a Welcome to Yorkshire/ Amaury Sport Organisation race in Association with British Cycling, will return next year as a more permanent event to build on the success experienced when Yorkshire hosted the Grand Depart for the Tour de Yorkshire last year.

Sally Burns, director of Communities and Neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: "We hope the Tour de Yorkshire will continue to build on the great economic benefits that the 2014 Grand Depart brought to York."

Analysts, using the same methodologies that were employed to examine the financial impact of events such as the London 2012 Olympics, concluded in an official report that last year's Tour de France stages injected £103 million into the county’s economy, with York benefitting directly with an £8 million boost.

The study, which featured a host of national surveys, found 1.1 million people had travelled to Yorkshire to watch the event, pumping an extra £20.7 million into the accommodation sector and £67.2 million into the tills of other firms.

Graham Usher, chairman of the York Hoteliers Association, said: "York does incredibly well most weekends, it's a really vibrant city.

"What I like about the sporting events that come is they raise our profile even more, showing we're not just a city with a lovely Minster and nice shops. It really helps raise awareness of York outside the area.

"The city was really busy over bank holiday weekend with the Tour de Yorkshire. However it can be a double edged sword, we have to be careful when planning these events not hold them when the city is already likely to be busy."

Away from the bikes, and the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon has also put York on the map for long distance running with its annual event in October.

Now in its third year, the 26.2 mile event attracts some 7,000 runners, contributing an estimated £1 million for the economy. And with last year's event attracting camera crews for a Channel 4, the marathon is another sporting spectacle bringing an opportunity to sell the city to thousands of viewers.

Chanel 4 was also on hand to film the Castle Howard Triathlon, part of the Castle Triathlon Series, which is set to return to North Yorkshire on July 15 and 26 this year.

Last year's event was viewed by more than 410 million households, with 64 per cent of competitor coming from outside Yorkshire.

This year organisers of the Castle Howard Triathlon expect 3,000 competitors, plus 6,000 spectators, which they say will equate to £2.5 million plus for the local economy.

Brian Adcock, of the Castle Triathlon Series, said: "With a predicted field of more than 2000 athletes in 2015 and a typical length of stay of two nights we are predicting at least a £2million boost to the local economy around Castle Howard and York.

"The high earning triathletes, the bulk of whom come with families and supporters, will spend around £1 million on accommodation, £300,000 on food, £300,000 on local facilities, around £80,000 prior to the event, and spectators spent about £320,000 on travel, food and local facilities.

"With a highlights package being shown on Channel 4 again this year we expect the impact and awareness of the area to be greater still and we look forward to returning here for many years to come."

The growing popularity of the Castle Howard Triathlon has seen tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire lend its support.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "We are in the business of driving visitors from all walks to Yorkshire, so we’re delighted to be supporting the Castle Howard Triathlon.

"It’s a wonderful setting for an event of this kind, and we hope to see the triathlon become one of the largest in the UK."

There's no doubt its the tourist industry that benefits most from hosting such events, with spectators and participants needing places to sleep and eat, as well as the potential for return visits to explore more of the sights

Kate McMullen, head of Visit York, said: "porting events create a real buzz around the city, as well as attracting media attention not just in the UK but also around the world.

"The nation as a whole is still riding high on enthusiasm for sport created by the London Olympics and here in Yorkshire by last year’s Grand Depart.

"Early estimates are that the Tour de Yorkshire will attracted 1 million spectators across the three days. However, the full benefit will be even wider than the economic impact, inspiring people to get involved in sport as well as profiling York and its surroundings as a superb location to visit."