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Could mountain biking bring in ‘hundreds of thousands’?

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JERSEY is missing out on potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds by not tapping into the growing mountain biking tourism market, according to a businessman.

Picture: JON GUEGAN. (25672759)

Aaron Lappage, who runs Aaron’s Bikes in Gloucester Street, has called on trails to be developed and joined up around the Island, which would allow Jersey to attract mountain bikers from the UK and other countries.

The mountain biking tourism industry now generates millions of pounds for the Welsh economy every year after a host of trails were developed in the Welsh valleys.

And a report in 2017 into mountain biking in Scotland estimated that tourism from the sport was worth around £100 million.

Mr Lappage believes there is an opportunity in Jersey to develop trails across the Island and bring more tourism to Jersey.

He said: ‘In Wales there has been a lot of work that has brought millions into the economy. In Scotland, mountain biking tourism there is worth over £100 million.

‘In Jersey they are missing a trick and there is a gap in the market to grow mountain biking and attract tourism.

‘Mountain biking is becoming increasingly popular with people in the Island, and by joining up trails and improving trails it could bring hundreds of thousands of pounds.

‘People would come, have to bring vehicles, stay in hotels; they would have to eat and it would all generate money for the economy.’

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And Mr Lappage believes now would be a good time to look at the sport, with the government launching its new plan which includes proposals to improve countryside access.

A spokeswoman for the government said it was outside the government’s remit to develop off-road and downhill cycling courses. However, a forum has been created to explore opportunities to develop mountain biking in the Island.

She said: ‘Our Countryside Access Strategy also encourages outdoor recreation, and we aim to provide increased opportunities for multi-user paths which will be accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

‘Natural Environment do not, however, provide recreational facilities such as sports centres and it is beyond our remit to provide bespoke “off road” or “downhill” cycling courses. We have been working with colleagues at Sport Jersey to implement the “Active Jersey Strategy”.

‘We would encourage cycling groups to seek their own, legally controlled, facilities for mountain biking, as we recognise that it is an easily accessible sport, which is growing in popularity.

‘The Jersey Access Forum has been created to seek opportunities for countryside users and we would encourage mountain bikers to contact JAF on 441634 or to contact Sport Jersey on 757700 in order to explore opportunities for developing mountain biking in Jersey.’

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