THE Baw Baw Shire Council will contribute up to $2,500 toward ensuring the first stage of the Tour of Gippsland cycling race will begin in Warragul later this year.
This article was first published in the 11 July 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
Councillors approved the spend at a council meeting earlier this month, arguing the event would boost tourism and help promote the new Visit Baw Baw brand.
The Warragul Business Group approached Baw Baw seeking a partnership funding agreement late last month, asking the council to match the group’s own $2,500 contribution.
The funds will see stage one begin in Warragul.
North ward councillor Debbie Brown told councillors the oppor-tunity to promote Baw Baw’s new tourism branding was a good one.
“This will give us a good oppor-tunity to work in partnership with the Warragul Business Group… and gives us the opportunity to promote our Visit Baw Baw brand,” Cr Brown said.
“I think this is two-and-a-half thousand well spent.”
SBS will broadcast the tour, a fact not lost on councillors keen to pro-mote the region.
Councillors were also pleased Warragul would host the first stage of the race in particular.
“This is a significant event around Victoria and Australia,” Cr Brown said.
“We’ve managed to secure stage one, which is great. Stage one and the final stage are the best parts of the race to be hosting.”
Drouin ward councillor Terry Williamson noted the potential economic benefits for Warragul in hosting the tour’s first stage – tens of thousands of dollars expected to be spent by visitors, athletes and their teams in the days leading up to the event.
“The fact that we are starting the tour here means the teams, approx-imately 300 people, have to find ac-commodation,” Cr Williamson said.
“Around $50,000 might be spent, which is why the Warragul Business Group is supporting it.”
In a letter to senior council staff, Warragul Business Group executive member and Promotions Comm-ittee convenor Peter Nicholson said the group thought “the benefits far outweigh the small cost.”
“The WBG supports the event being started in the CBD, and if this involves partial street closures then we feel that is even better.”
The event will begin on 3 September.
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