Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Giro d'Italia: Multi-million pound bid to host 'Big Start' a real coup for economy

A celebrating cyclist

It was a bid that put Northern Ireland on the map.

Serious negotiations to host the Grande Partenza, or the Big Start, of the Giro d'Italia began in March 2012 and the pay-off was a multi-million pound investment for Northern Ireland.

The joint Irish bid was first reported in late October 2012 by the Belfast Telegraph.

We reported that a cross-border submission to host the opening stages of the Giro d'Italia in 2014 had been put together by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Failte Ireland, in conjunction with Stormont and the Irish government.

Total costs for the submission were estimated at £3.8m, or €4.7m. A confidential report suggested plans were at an advanced stage and confirmed that an agent had been appointed to submit the speculative bid.

The joint Belfast/Dublin bid was up against a number of Italian cities.

Winning the Giro d'Italia Grand Partenza for Northern Ireland was a great achievement – one which took a number of years to pin down.

This internationally acclaimed event will showcase Northern Ireland on a global stage, with more than 140,000 visitors expected to attend the event, which will be viewed in countries all over the world.

Last year, Northern Ireland welcomed 1.55 million visitors from overseas who spent around £418m in communities right across the country, providing valuable employment.

Attracting the Giro to Northern Ireland has the potential to contribute significantly to the economy, through attracting additional tourists, including international visitors, and generating additional tourism revenue.

The NITB bid was made in association with Belfast City Council and promoters, Shadetree Sports, and among those attending the launch back in February 2013 were Michele Acquarone, the head of the Giro d'Italia and Managing Director of Italian race organiser RCS Sport. The total cost to Northern Ireland is expected to be in the region of £4.2m, with £3m from DETI/EU.

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