February is shaping as a fantastic month for Palmerston North financially, with the 33 Days of Cycling festival promising a boost of more than $100,000 to the city's coffers.
New Zealand's longest annual cycling festival pedalled its way into Manawatu yesterday, bringing with it an abundance of lycra-clad cyclists, their supporters and the promise of a tidy pay packet for the city.
Sport Manawatu event co-ordinator Kathy McMillan said last year's event earned the region an estimated $121,000 of additional income and this year's cycling bonanza should bring more.
"This year we are expecting more spectators at the event and more people participating in the activities on offer ... so we are definitely expecting this figure to increase."
The festival - with both recreational and competitive cycling - began yesterday with more than 300 people skirting along the start line of stage 1 of the men's international New Zealand Cycle Classic, the individual time trials.
Last year, the number of spectators at the men's five-day-long tour alone reached 2000.
The Women's Tour of New Zealand has been scrapped, and has been replaced by the La Femme ride this year, and there are other daily bike-related events, activities and competitions.
With Manawatu hosting the only International Cycling Union event in the country, the wider benefits of it being in the region were extensive, Miss McMillan said.
"It has a big impact for our region, it showcases that we are the best place in New Zealand to ride a bike.
"We are really lucky to be hosting the men's tour, and hopefully seeing the cyclists here, watching them ride and getting involved in the event inspires people to get out there on their bikes, and get fitter and healthier.
"It's fantastic for the people in the region, but it also helps bring people from outside the region here to see what the Manawatu has to offer."
The overall increase in economic activity from the event last year was $248,000.
- Manawatu Standard
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