One of the most-viewed annual sporting events in the world, the Tour de France, is an economic boon for many parties. The cities and town that host or are on the tour see more visitors who spend money. Sponsors participate in a carnival-like parade. With global media coverage, it is estimated that over 170 million people watch some or all of the Tour, and each rider is a billboard for the team's sponsors. The Tour is the leading professional cycling event and all parties feel its economic influence.

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Cities and Towns
The vast majority of the Tour takes place within France. Each year more than 200 towns apply to host the Tour. For those that pass muster, they spruce up their communities in preparation for the influx of visitors. Most of the time, the roads are repaved. Many days before the tour arrives, visitors spend the bulk of their vacation spending money on lodging, camping sites, restaurants and shopping.

If your town is one of the lucky ones, the economic affect is worth the hassle. For many of these towns, the Tour represents the biggest event of the decade. Towns typically pay 100,000 euros to 150,000 euros to host the start or finish of a stage. (If you do a little sleuthing and stay flexible on which teams to follow, you can still enjoy all the excitement of live sporting events. Don't miss Money-Saving Tips For Sports Fans.)

Tour de France Caravan
The Tour de France Caravan is one of the most unique promotional ideas around. Henri Desgrange created the caravan in 1930 to give sponsors a way to promote their brands and products. The caravan is one of the major features of the Tour as sponsors strive to create an image in the minds of the millions of spectators on the road. The 20-kilometer long procession involves more than 30 brands in 160 wildly decorated vehicles. It takes 45 minutes for the parade to pass, as representatives hand out 16 million gifts to the spectators. It is a spectacle that for 39% of people is the main attraction, according to one survey.

Sponsors range from local companies that pay for their one-day participation to national firms that provide significant support. Sponsorship in the caravan generally runs from 200,000 euros to 500,000 euros per advertiser. (If you're a tennis fan, these numbers tell the story of one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Check out Wimbledon: By The Numbers.)

Media Coverage
If you watch the Tour, you will see the motorbikes with TV camera operators and photojournalists on the back seat following all the action. One-hundred and seventy million people in 186 countries watch the Tour through 118 TV channels with live coverage on 60 channels. In 2007, a new television contract was signed with France Televisions for 120 euros million over five years. They also provide the feed to all other broadcasts. This gives them a great platform to sell commercials to the French audience.

Twenty-two professional teams will participate in the 2010 Tour. The average budget for each team is 8.6 million euros and the average salary of a Pro Team member is 190,000 euros. Most teams share the prize money among all team members, as each member has a role to play to help the team do well. The winner of the Tour de France receives 450,000 euros. In the past, winners have shared their winnings with their team members.

The Bottom Line
A look at the economics of the Tour de France shows that all who participate receive valuable benefits. As a global sporting event held each year, the Tour gives the towns, sponsors and the country a positive way to promote themselves while offering a three-week event. (For more, check out 7 Affordable Summer Adventure Sports.)

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