Tourism sector secures podium finish
CAFES and restaurants were overflowing up and down the east coast long after the cyclists had crossed the finishing line.
The brisk trade was testament to the multi-million euro boost delivered by the Giro d'Italia over the weekend. With 500,000 spectators on the ground and an entourage of more than 3,500 people, the key cycling competition delivered an immediate cash injection.
And the 125 million households watching on TV are expected to contribute to knock-on effects for tourism in the foreseeable future.
The skies may have been grey but the stunning vistas as the cyclists swooped down the east coast are expected to attract many more visitors in a tourism coup for the north-east and east of the country.
The joint cross-border bid was first reported in October 2012, with a submission by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Failte Ireland, in conjunction with Stormont and the Irish government. The joint Belfast-Dublin bid was up against a number of Italian cities.
But the roots of the success lay as far back as December 2009, when former cyclist Darach McQuaid, who had been involved in running the Tour of Ireland, approached race organisers RCS Sport in Milan to discuss the possibility of Ireland as a destination for the 'Grande Partenza' or Big Start.
Failte Ireland committed €225,000 to the total €4.7m cost of the bid. The remainder of the funding was met by Dublin City Council and Dublin-based Italian bank Banca Mediolanum.