A £98 MILLION boost to North Yorkshire’s economy thanks to this year’s Tour de Yorkshire has been welcomed by the leader of Craven District Council.

Figures released this week indicate that a record 2.6 million people lined the route over the four day race in early May, including the final stage, which came though Craven on its way from Halifax to Leeds, spending 50 per cent more than at last year’s event.

Welcome to Yorkshire says spectators spent almost 50 per cent more on accommodation, and 58 per cent more on food, drink and souvenirs.

Councillor Richard Foster, leader of Craven District Council, said: “It’s great news that the Tour de Yorkshire gives such a boost to our economy. We know that the event brought thousands of people into Skipton and the surrounding villages this year – it’s also an opportunity to showcase our beautiful district as the race is broadcast around the world.

“Craven is becoming renowned as a fantastic destination for cyclists and tourists and this can only be a good thing for our local businesses. We’re now looking forward to next year’s event, and the UCI Road World Championships due to take place in September 2019.”

The race was televised in 190 countries and watched by 12.5 million people across the world - 29 per cent more than last year.

Zarina Belk, owner of Zarina’s Tearoom, Kettlewell, said: “It was a great day, very chaotic. Bank holidays are usually busy but had a great mixture of new customers along with the regular cycling customers eager to see the race. Tour de Yorkshire certainly added to the value of the day.”

And Victoria Robertshaw, co-owner of Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton, supporters of the race since it was first held in 2015, said: “The focus on Yorkshire both nationally and internationally has been great for our business which is all about promoting fantastic Yorkshire food.” To celebrate the race coming through Craven, Keelham added specials, including a ‘Keelham Tour de Sausage’.

“We also received a brilliant response from journalists covering the Tour who were able to try our food - many of whom Tweeted their appreciation which is always helpful in driving online sales,” she said.

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “The prestige of hosting the world’s best riders is just one part of why we organise the Tour de Yorkshire but this is so much more than a bike race. The benefits it brings to Yorkshire innumerable.”