Cyclists, golfers boost tourism

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:37 04/04/2014

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Marlborough businesses are gearing up for brisk sales with two major sporting events over the next week.

The South Island's biggest cycling event, the Forrest GrapeRide, is set to attract 4000 domestic and international visitors to Marlborough.

On Monday, the Allan Scott Winery Women's Golf Tournament begins. About 175 competitors and their supporters from all over New Zealand will attend the three-day tournament.

Destination Marlborough's general manager Tracy Johnston said sporting events created a tourism potential.

Figures for 2010 showed event visitors spent $197 per head compared with $174 for domestic visitors.

Sporting events gave people a reason to visit Marlborough, Johnston said.

"A great portfolio of sporting events is vital and helps attract people at different times of the year to help address our seasonality.

"They have a shorter length of stay than other leisure visitors but they spend slightly more," Johnston said.

Marion Tripe is on the committee of the golf tournament and said a lot of the competitors come with supporters.

"They travel around Marlborough and eat in our eateries. The women love to shop . . ."

Raupo Riverside Cafe manager Jo Gibbons said she had received bookings for Saturday and Sunday from a lot of domestic visitors attending the GrapeRide.

Indoor seating was booked out for Saturday night, and Sunday morning already had a large number of reservations.

Gibbons said the two sporting events meant the next week would be particularly busy.

Avantiplus owner Bill Mitchell said the GrapeRide would make it one of the busiest retail weekends of the year.

"These people are hardened riders and are cycling more than 100km. Usually they have their gear all set up by the time they arrive. They are not coming in and buying bikes. I predict our top sellers will be peak fuel energy drinks and gels."

Flagship sporting events tapped into the tourism market, he said.

"It brings lots of people to Marlborough to hotels, eateries and bars over the weekend. It is good timing at the end of the summer season. It's great to have that extra trade to lengthen the season."

Mitchell hoped other sporting events could be developed to help market Marlborough.

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- The Marlborough Express

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