Wollongong 2022 CEO disappointed in L’Etape cancellation – A big opportunity lost

Organisers of next year’s UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong have described as ‘disappointing’ Lateral Events’ announcement to cancel L’Etape Australia due to Shoalhaven City Council’s decision to ‘discourage’ the event from being held on public roads in the Shoalhaven, one of three local Government areas spanning the race route.

CEO of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, Stu Taggart, said he felt for the many businesses which would now miss the economic benefit of an event which was expected to inject millions of dollars into the regional economy.

‘Right now, tourism across all of Australia, and in the Illawarra and South Coast, is suffering. It isn’t a great time to be withdrawing support for events and activities which will provide exactly the sort of stimulus that the sector is crying out for,’ Mr Taggart said.

‘I recognise that the community does need to be fully engaged, and informed of the benefits and opportunities these events deliver. And with the current COVID restrictions, it’s a delicate balancing act for everyone. But we’re now seeing strong increases in daily vaccination rates and ultimately that’s our ticket to freedom.

‘My heart goes out to the people of the Shoalhaven and neighbouring Kiama and the Southern Highlands who’ll miss out on what we viewed as the perfect beginning to this region’s COVID recovery plan; a world class event, completely aligned with the region’s cycling tourism strategy bringing thousands of visitors to the region ahead of our summer tourism peak and putting people back to work after two of the most challenging years our local community has ever experienced,’ Mr Taggart added.

Mr Taggart said planning for the UCI World Championships remains firmly on track and he has appreciated nothing but positive support from those who are backing the event.

‘I remain grateful that for the 2022 UCI Road World Championships next year we’re working with partners who fundamentally recognise the incredible economic benefit of major sporting events. The NSW Government through Destination NSW, NSW Office of Sport and Wollongong City Council have been nothing but supportive of this unique opportunity for Wollongong and the Illawarra, and in a little over 12 months this region will reap the economic benefits which are estimated at $95 million,’ Mr Taggart said.