TOURISM attractions and hospitality businesses in Warwickshire are set to benefit from up to 1.5 billion global TV viewers, thousands of visitors daily and £300 million worth of investment, as a result of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
As the region gears up for this major international summer sporting event, members of Shakespeare England attended the latest tourism forum on how to get ‘Games ready’ with updates from Warwick District Commonwealth Games Project and Leamington-based Bowls England.
The 12-day Games includes two sporting events in the county – the nine-day Lawn Bowls and Para Bowls in Leamington’s Victoria Park, between July 29 and August 6 and the Women’s and Men’s Cycling Road Races on Sunday August 7 starting and finishing at Myton Fields in Warwick.
Retired UK Olympic and Commonwealth Games athlete Christina Boxer, who is project manager for Warwick District Commonwealth Games Project, described the event as “a once in a lifetime” opportunity.
She told members £300 million worth of contracts had been awarded within Warwickshire as a result of the Games, details of which will be publicly announced at a later date.
Christina said: “The last time the Commonwealth Games was held in the UK was 2002 in Manchester and it was not likely to be back again for another 20 years
“A big proportion of visitors will be coming to Birmingham but it will impact further across the West Midlands and Warwickshire, and the athletes’ villages are now split between the University of Warwick and Perry Barr in Birmingham.
“This is really amazing for Warwickshire to have these events taking place in towns rather than cities where they usually are held. They are called the ‘friendly games’ – and they really are. Manchester had such a big impact on me it was so friendly and so successful!
“Lawn Bowls and Para Bowls is a brilliant sport and so inclusive. Internationally it is a very, very young sport – we recently had the Malaysian team visit Victoria Park in Leamington and they were all very young. Para bowls is just incredible to watch!
“The cycling will start and finish in Warwick which is a brilliant thing as people can watch it for free. It’s a very high-profile sport. There will be BBC coverage for the 10 days the Games are in Warwickshire.”
A total of 5,000 visitors a day are expected to attend the Lawn Bowls and Para Bowls in Leamington watching up to 240 competitors from 28 countries.
And so far, 2,000 people have bought tickets for the women’s and men’s cycling road races with thousands of non-paying spectators due to watch along the course.
Warwick District Council is also going to be running a month-long CultureFest to coincide with the Games from July 16 to August 21.
Events and activities taking place across Leamington, Warwick, Kenilworth and Whitnash, will be featured at www.warwickdc.gov.uk/culturefest
Alistair Hollis, head of sport development at Bowls England, whose UK headquarters are based in Leamington, hopes the excitement and exposure of bowls in the Games will encourage a multi-generational audience to want to join their local bowls club or try the sport over the next five years.
He said: “It is genuinely truly accessible in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and affordability. All generations can play together. It is one of the most affordable sports – around 30p an hour on average. As a result of the pandemic there is a mental health crisis. We have Bowls for Health where people are getting referred by GPs for social connection.
“We also want to take the sport to people and here in Leamington we are piloting one-hour casual lawn bowls sessions with no rules and no dress code.”