Cyclists Looking to Make Maine Their Tourism Destination in 2013

The internationally recognized bicycle touring organization, Vélo Québec Événements (VQE), is targeting Maine for a huge grand tour in August 2013.

Recently, VQE approached Maine about hosting the 20th edition of “The Grand Tour Desjardins.” The tour consists of approximately 2000 participants traveling over 600 miles, by bicycle, over a seven-day period. Every year they select a new destination and this will be the first time they will venture into Maine. Event organizers were in Maine last week to speak with state tourism officials, as well as communities along the proposed route.

VQE utilizes local caterers, equipment rental companies, security companies, etc. to facilitate the large group. Many of the participants will camp outside in designated areas but there will also be several hundred who will stay in local inns and hotels. They expect approximately 1,700 bed nights and 36,000 meals to be purchased from local businesses over the course of their seven-day stay.

"Having VQE in Maine would be a tremendous economic opportunity for the State of Maine, and we are prepared to assist them as they move forward with their plans," said Maine Department of Economic & Community Development Commissioner George Gervais. “It is important that we work with the local communities along the route to maximize the economic potential of this tour for those areas.”

The proposed loop route will begin and end in Waterville; traveling to Bangor, Bar Harbor or Ellsworth, Belfast and Newcastle, traversing several smaller towns in between. The tour offers a leisurely pace where cyclists travel at their own rate, allowing plenty of time to shop and visit tourist attractions along the route.

"This is a high-caliber event that is carefully organized and managed. It is an exciting opportunity for the communities involved and the entire state giving us great exposure for tourism and positioning Maine as a premier destination for bicycling enthusiasts," added Commissioner Gervais.

Established in 1986, VQE is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop and organize campaigns, events and active travel in the outdoor activity, recreation, tourism and sustainable travel fields. Committed to a future with “better quality of life” and a “better environment;” their campaigns reach over 1.5 million people every year.