More than three quarters of a million people tuned in to watch the north-east stage of the Tour of Britain, raising hopes of a future tourism boom.
In September Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire hosted the final stage of the UK’s top bike race, with the pictures beamed around the world.
Some of the world’s top cyclists competed on the day, which saw the week-long event culminate in a dramatic sprint along the Esplanade in Aberdeen.
Now Sweetspot, the tour’s organiser, has revealed more than 500,000 viewers tuned in to watch the live coverage as the peloton battled it out on the roads of the north-east.
A further 268,000 people watched a highlights show broadcast shortly after the riders crossed the finish line.
Tour of Britain ‘great opportunity’
Tourism chiefs previously hailed the live event as a “great opportunity” due to the race taking in many of the north-east’s most prominent landmarks.
Beginning in Stonehaven, the 173-kilometre route tackled the fearsome Cairn O’Mount climb, circling around Royal Deeside and finishing with a beachfront sprint in Aberdeen.
As well as hundreds of thousands watching on at home, 10,000 people watched the action at the finish line outside the Beach Ballroom
Chris Foy, the chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire, previously claimed the event was a “great advert for visiting Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire”.
“The final leg of the Tour of Britain being held here in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire really cemented the region’s reputation as a host for large scale sporting events,” he said.
“Encouraging TV viewing figures can prove to be an inspiration for future visits by cycling enthusiasts, and will be further boosted by the return of the Tour in 2022.”
The region is already confirmed as being part of the 2022 edition of the race, and will host the first stage.
The firm is yet to publish its economic impact assessment for this year, which will detail the benefits brought to host towns and cities following the tour’s visit.
Potential windfall for north-east
However, previous years’ reports have indicated Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire could have seen a windfall of more than £1 million from the day of the event alone.
And bosses believe there could be even greater long-term financial benefits as a result of the live TV coverage, which showcased the best of the region to a global audience.
They believe it could encourage those who watched at home to visit the region in the months and years to come.
Mr Roberts spoke of his hope the race would return to the north-east “many, many times in the future”.
“The tour can highlight the attractions of Aberdeen to the tourism market,” he said.
“On a sporting level we can encourage girls and boys to get out and cycle a bit more.
“For us, it’s great to be able to inspire domestic and international tourism, inspire the youth to take up riding and also to say thank you to people who do it as a means of transport or as a recreational thing.”