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Interview. With two Tour de France finishes, in Cahors and Rocamadour, global benefits for the Lot

Two stages of the Tour de France in the Lot, images all over the world. (©ASO_Pauline_B)

Of the images of the Lot and its sound relating to Tour de France broadcast in 190 countries, including a third live, more than 100 television channels concerned… to say that the event is of global scope is not a figment of the imagination.

July 22 (arrival in Cahors) and July 23 (Lacapelle-Marival -Rocamadour time trial), will be the most watched sites in the world…

With Christophe Proença, vice-president of the Lot Departmentin charge of attractiveness and tourism, kingpin of the Tour de France in the Lot, spotlight on the benefits for the department, of these two days of the Tour de France in Lot territory.

News: To host the Tour de France, the Lot had to put their hands in their pockets. How much did it cost ?

Christophe Proenca: One arrival, €120,000, one departure €80,000, i.e. €320,000 including both arrivals and departure; a global sum which roughly corresponds to the costs that ASO
registered in the territory. With the Department, the costs incurred by hosting the Tour de France in the Lot were shared in four, Cauvaldor, Grand Figeac and Grand Cahors. However, this sum almost returns to the territory from the first day of the arrival of the Tour de France teams. Thousands of people have booked hotels, from Friday until Saturday evening, that is to say the consumption generated, all types of purchases combined.
By way of comparison, two years ago, we had carried out a communication campaign at the level of tourism, seeking to regain the hair of the beast after the Covid, which had cost us nearly €500,000 in expenses, with in particular a poster campaign in the Paris metro, on buses in Bordeaux and Toulouse.

This time, with the Tour de France and the fact that the Lot has been talked about repeatedly in the press for several months, with of course a peak in communication on the two days of Friday and Saturday, these are consequences that we could never have financially considered.
Christophe Proenca Christophe Proença, vice-president of the Department of Lot, in charge of attractiveness and tourism.

©JCB

Didn’t you have to meet specific constraints in terms of road infrastructure development? PC:

The person in charge of the Tour de France, in terms of road infrastructure, who had already come to the Lot for the first time last summer, and the person in charge of departures and arrivals, did not express great demands with regard to our roads, which proves in passing that they are considered in good condition. However, improvements have been made in Gramat, between the town center and the station. In Gramat will be installed the press center where the journalists who will broadcast the elements of the last stage will be welcomed.

How do you see the crowds that the Tour in the Lot will generate? PC:
It is not possible to advance on figures, insofar as it is a majority of trips on an individual basis. We know and expect the reception of tens of thousands of people. Several thousand motorhomes are expected. The technical team of the Tour alone, between the caravan, the followers, the security services, the teams themselves, the 176 riders and the staff who evolve around them, are more than 2000 people at least ! And there are several hundred journalists. Added to these figures is the public who will line the roads of the Lot with of course a greater or lesser density of people depending on the places best placed to see the runners pass. In Cahors and Rocamadour, places will be difficult to find for those who arrive at the last moment.

It is possible that the Cadurcian city will double its population and that Rocamadour will experience record crowds. It is not impossible that on the time trial stage we will reach 200,000 people.

How do you measure the impact of the passage of the Tour de France in the Lot? PC:
It is not today that we can measure them. Of course, during the two days of the runners’ passage, there will be significant economic benefits. It’s obvious ! There are also a certain number of people who will stay two or three days in the department and who will take advantage of the opportunity to engage in other activities. The longer-term benefits will be the most important…
The hotels were booked in September, before the announcement fell that the Lot had been selected for two stages. In fact, indirectly, it was the hoteliers who were the first informed of the passage of the Tour de France in the Lot. When ASO made reservations for entire hotels, the connection with the Tour de France was quickly made!
A quantified report on the impact of the Tour de France in the Lot will be published in the fall. However, we must not want to measure the interest that the Tour de France represents in the Lot, only in terms of image and economic data. It should also be taken into account that this is an international sporting event, at the same time as a magnificent celebration in our territory which all Lotois can attend.

It is also an opportunity to salute the work done by clubs for years, educators and volunteers and it is also a celebration for them.

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On the outdoor rental side, has the Tour had an influence on the occupancy rate? PC:

This year, even before there was any mention of the Tour de France, the Lot campsites had a better booking rate than in previous years. Gîtes and bed and breakfasts posted good forecast figures for July and August. Thanks to the Tour de France, we are expecting fallout from the end of the season, with all those who will see all these beautiful images of our sites which will make them want to come and spend a few days with us. I say this all the more easily since I am one of those who react in this way. Several times, during my outings in Spain, I went to sites that I had learned about thanks to the images shown during the Vuelta. It’s the same with the Giro in Italy. The combination of sport, tourism and attractiveness gives meaning to the event well beyond the competition itself.

The Tour de France in the Lot, a major element of the attractiveness of the territory, in your opinion? PC:

I have already said it and repeated it, I have always believed that sporting events, like cultural events for that matter, can play a strong role in the attractiveness of the department. Of course, it’s not just the Tour de France that can bring together all the conditions for such success. I will cite, for example, the Lacapelle-Marival motocross world championship, which was a resounding success. Same thing with the Cahors Trial which will take place on August 27 and 28 with a round counting for the world championship. Already we are in talks in relation to the Rugby World Cup so that the Lot gets involved in the event. For the Olympic Games, it will not be a question of sitting idly by either. We must rely on major sporting events, either so that the people of Lot make it a party, or to invite our population to practice the sport concerned and, as far as possible, have an element of tourist and economic attractiveness.

Doping has considerably tarnished the image of sport. What about your eyes? PC:

It is true that doping has been a gangrene of sport and especially of cycling. I hope the darkest pages on this subject are behind us. I am confident with regard to what is happening today with the level of control operated. And for the offenders, the penalties must fall!

“A great celebration for all Lotois and for visitors to the Lot”

Why did the Department add a financial envelope, “to make the Tour a celebration for all Lotois”. Wasn’t the event enough in itself? PC:

The Department has added €200,000 so that the Tour de France in the Lot is a celebration for all Lot residents. Thus, the party device around the bike was proposed, to support the initiatives of dozens of municipalities and associations which have created activities related to the bike. This is also in line with greenways and our desire to promote the development of cycling. It is becoming a determining element in terms of tourist attractiveness. So far, we had the hike which attracts a lot of people to stay in the Lot. Now, the bicycle, including the electric bicycle that we have supported in the Department, is becoming an asset for the Lot. Nature sport is in vogue and this has increased following the Covid. We have a card to play with our varied and charming territories everywhere.

And you, where will you be during these days of the Tour de France in the Lot? PC:

On Friday, I’ll be on the finish stage in Cahors. At noon I will go to Douelle, in support of a solidarity action organized by the Secours populaire for young people, around the bike. Then I’ll be in the finish area in Cahors where a moment of exchanges with the Tour teams is planned. On Saturday, I planned to go to the departure village of Lacapelle-Marival and in the afternoon to Rocamadour on arrival. It is possible that I can do the stage by car!

What is your favorite for this 2022 Tour? PC:

I follow the Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar with great attention. In a way, he seems to evolve above the others. I also like the Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard of the Jumbo-Visma team, someone with promise who has the makings of a Tour de France winner.

And among the French? PC:

Of course, we are missing our world champion Julian Alaphilippe in the race, who could not enter due to injury. Otherwise, Thibaut Pinot can show good performances; let’s not forget that he is one of the best climbers in the world… He can do a lot!

And after the 2022 Tour, other projects? PC:

Yes of course, bring back the Route d’Occitanie, but on another part of the Lot territory… If the Rocamadour stage is a success, we can hope for a return of the Tour to the Lot in the more or less short term. For my part, I think that between the sporting context and the tourist dimension of our sites, we have the ingredients for success. But you’ll probably have to wait a bit. 200 requests from Tour de France host cities are permanently pending, for a number of stages limited to around twenty, as long as departures outside France are not taken into account. After Copenhagen this year, next year the start of the Tour de France will take place in Bilbao (in the north of Spain). Long live the Tour!

ASO: Amaury Sport Organisation, company that creates and organizes international sporting events, including the Tour de France Was this article helpful to you? Note that you can follow Actu Lot in the My Actu space. In one click, after registration, you will find all the news of your favorite cities and brands.

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