Hotels in the Sheffield area are filling up for the Tour de France.
“On average it’s about 65% to 70% at the moment, which I think will go up quite a bit over the next week or two,” said Ian Slater, chairman of Hospitality Sheffield.
An initial wave of bookings came from organisations linked to the Grand Depart, such as from the French media.
Now more general enquiries are coming in, such as from spectators who will line the route as the world’s top cyclists pass through Sheffield on Sunday, July 6.
“The second phase will get us to capacity fairly quickly over the next month or two,” said Mr Slater. “Some companies have block booked because they want to bring clients. I don’t think there’s a doubt we’ll be full. Certainly, people wouldn’t usually be booking as early for a Saturday or Sunday in July.”
As well as occupancy rates going up, so are prices for a double room in a city centre.
Cheapest online prices earlier this week indicate it will cost £89 at the Novotel on July 6 compared with £59 for the previous Sunday, Mercure £144 (£74), Holiday Inn Royal Victoria £80.50 (£54.50), Hilton £210 (£54), Premier Inn £129 (£29) and Travelodge £77 (£24).
The rates fluctuate and reflect supply and demand, and are similar to those for a busy Saturday or when there is an influx of visitors for a big music concert or a swimming tournament or the World Snooker Championship, said Mr Slater, general manager of the Sheffield Metropolitan Hotel, which is charging £80 or £90 compared with £45 the previous Sunday.
Local hotel operators are keen to build up custom in the wake of the Tour de France. “If you push it too far, people know it’s not value for money,” said Mr Slater. “We want people to have a great time in Sheffield and say ‘We’ll go back’.”
Sheffield hotels depend to a large extent on custom from sports and other events in the city.
The route of the Tour de France through Sheffield is likely to be dotted permanently with brown signs so that other cyclists can follow the route throughout the year, bringing business to local hotels.
An annual cycle event that goes between Sheffield city centre and the Peak District is also being considered.