Ireland Aims to Boost Bike Tourism – Wants to Host Tour de France

Ireland plans to host the opening stages of the upcoming Tour de France in either 2026 or 2027, with main representatives in the country expressing interest in the formal bidding process to the Tour organisers.

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The Tourism Minister, Catherine Martin TD and the Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons MLA, will start their collaboration on the development of the plans to host the event in the next four to five years, reports.

The agreement comes following engagement between Martin and Lyons, most recently last week in Belfast, while the Minister discussed the joint bid to host the Tour, and they agreed to host such an event, which would have a great impact on tourism, sports and other benefits for Ireland.

“Our shared experience in hosting major sports events, our cooperative approach in marketing the entire island of Ireland as a tourism destination, and the wonderful scenery and céad míle fáilte that awaits visitors to Ireland could all combine to create an amazing all-island event. This collaborative process has my full support, and I will engage with colleagues across Government on this in the coming weeks,” the Minister for Tourism noted.

Moreover, the Minister of Economy added that people will always remember the Giro d’Italia ‘Big Start’ in 2014 and also be able to successfully host the Grand Depart, which it hosted in 1998.

According to the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), the number of tourists was down by 20 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The same shows that 338,000 people came from continental Europe, which was down by five per cent from 2019, showing that the strongest-performing market. During the same month, the North American market recovered, with a total of 230,000 visitors.

“Members such as hotels and restaurants were reporting that energy bills had jumped to unsustainable and unprecedented levels, warning that profit margins have come under serious pressure. The thought that the Government would add to business woes early next year by hiking the Vat rate by 50 per cent beggars’ belief,” CEO of ITIC Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, said.

As per pre-pandemic levels, 11.3 million tourists visited the country in 2019 – 100,000 or one per cent more than in the previous year, and the main countries of origin for tourists were the United Kingdom (42 per cent), Germany (seven per cent) and France (five per cent).

About half of tourists that visited Ireland came for a holiday, accounting for 34,000 and about one per cent more than in the previous month.