An estimated $3 million will pour into the region’s economy this week and next as Central Oregon plays host to consecutive bicycle races with national prominence, said Doug La Placa, president and CEO of Visit Bend.
The 30th annual Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic — the longest consecutively run elite stage race in the country, according to organizers — is under way, and the amateur Cascade Stage Race begins Friday. In addition, the USA Cycling Junior, U23, Elite, and Paralympic Road National Championships begin Tuesday and last through Aug. 2.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint the economic impact of these large-scale events leading into the events … (but) for our best, conservative estimate, we are projecting a $3 million impact to the local economy in direct consumer spending,” La Placa said Wednesday.
La Placa suggested the amount may be more. Students from Oregon State University’s Tourism and Commercial Recreation Management program are studying the races’ economic impact and will present their findings in late August, he said.
The study was commissioned by Visit Bend.
“Intuitively, any time an event brings in thousands of people from across the country, there’s a natural level of spending that takes place,” La Placa said. “This is bringing people literally from every state in the country for prolonged stays.”
More than 700 riders are competing in the Cascade Cycling Classic and the Cascade Stage Race, and the National Championships are on pace to attract roughly 1,000 contestants, La Placa said. He said the number of entrants in the races is up due to the events’ back-to-back scheduling.
While many Cascade Cycling Classic riders stay with host families, fans and people associated with the races are filling up hotel rooms, he said.
“The next two weeks look really good,” La Placa said. “It’s exciting to see the hotels as full as they are.”
Overnight lodging in the region has declined with the recession. According to room-tax collections, considered a key indicator of tourism activity, hotel bookings in the city and county from the fiscal period of July 1, 2008, through May were off 14.8 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, when compared with year-ago numbers.
Fewer rooms filled means fewer dollars coming into the community. Tourism is estimated to have a $571 million-a-year impact on Central Oregon’s economy.
Alana Audette, president and CEO of the Central Oregon Visitors Association, which promotes tourism for the region, said the races constitute “a definite shot in the arm” for the area’s economy.
“Without question, the visibility of having the (CCC) here is a great benefit to travel and tourism,” Audette said.
She added that hosting the races adds credibility to tourism promotions that tout the region’s active outdoor lifestyle.
“It’s one thing to tout Central Oregon as a cycling destination, but for this to be an actual location for world-class cycling makes it much easier to say with authority and credibility,” Audette said.
Bend also will host the 2009 USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships, to be held Dec. 10-13 in Bend. La Placa said another 2,000 riders are expected for that event.