Cross-channel cycle route to link Dorset with France and Jersey
As Britain enjoys an unprecedented boom in cycling, a new cross-channel route looks set to become an important new West Country tourist attraction.
More than 50 Dorset businesses will gather in Weymouth today to find out how the 265-mile Petite Tour de Manche can help them boost trade.
The route, which links Dorset with Normandy, Brittany and Jersey, is one of three new routes being created as part of the Cycle West European project.
The £6.8 million initiative is designed to link the two nations, capitalise on the fast growing popularity of cycling, and open up sustainable tourism opportunities ‘off the beaten track’.
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On the continent, ‘cycle tourism’ is big business – and across Europe, it is estimated to grow to around £14 billion in the next few years. Weymouth stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Cycle West investment, as two of the three routes pass through the town, and it is the entry and exit port for anyone travelling between England, Jersey and France.
“The new route opens up fantastic opportunities for local businesses, from B&Bs, cafés and pubs through to cycle hire shops and local tourist attractions,” said Councillor Peter Finney, portfolio holder for highways and transportation at Dorset County Council.
“All the research shows that cycle tourists spend more per head than those arriving by car, and – of course – they have much less environmental impact. We are confident that the new routes will not only bring more British tourists into Weymouth, but also thousands of French tourists too, keen to enjoy one of the most scenic parts of Britain.”
Dorset businesses have booked into a half-day seminar at Weymouth Pavilion to find out how to make the most of the attraction.
“We are also hoping they will brush up on their foreign languages, and put their menus in French as well, to make overseas visitors feel welcome,” said Mr Finney. “Let’s make the very most of this fantastic opportunity to put Weymouth on the cycle tourism map.”
Cycling is already important to West Country tourism, with the flat landscape of the Somerset Moors and Levels ideal for cyclists of all ages and abilities. The Dutch are particular enthusiasts for cycling holidays in Somerset. The entire country was given an international showcase for cyclists when Somerset County Council’s former Liberal Democrat administration paid to bring a stage of the Tour of Britain to the county.