THE Rugby World Cup is coming to Gloucester -but what can it do for the city?
That’s what city business, media, marketing and tourism leaders asked when they gathered a few hundred yards from where the eyes of the world will focus on Gloucester in 18 months time.
Smart Communications’ Tony Bowden, who set up the open session at Sebz in Northgate Street, believes the city can do a lot for the 2015 RWC too, and he doesn’t want businesses to miss their chance to shine.
“I think it will give us an opportunity to showcase the city and put ourselves on the map,” he said. “Smaller businesses might not be switched on to the competition and may find out about it too late.”
The competition will start on September 18, 2015 and the first match at Kingsholm will be played the next day, followed by matches on September 23 and 25, and October 11.
Gloucester City Council will provide a city centre fanzone and Marketing Gloucester is moving the city’s Blues Festival to coincide with the competition but businesses and residents are welcome to suggest more ideas which make the most of Gloucester.
Marketing Gloucester is also looking at bringing the Tall Ships Festival to the Docks at the same time too.
Scottish, Tongan, Argentinian, and most likely Japanese and American fans will head to the city, and tourism chiefs want to capitalise on Irish fans’ fondness for Gloucester as they travel between matches in London and Cardiff.
Gloucester has an ace up its sleeve in being one of the few rugby cities where the RWC will be played - an event which drew 350,000 foreign visitors to France in 2007.
“This is the third largest global televised event and we have the chance to come together and seize the moment,” said former Gloucester and Leicester player Adam Balding, the Rugby World Cup 2015 events management coordinator for Gloucester, who hosted the lunch alongside Citizen Editor, Jenny Eastwood.
City council leader Paul James said the city knows its rugby which is a major selling point to fans - and there should be a benefit to the city too.
“The RWC can have a lasting impact on the city and we should be using it in every way to secure investment,” he said.
The £2million improvements at Gloucester railway station are coming in part because of the RWC.
“There are also opportunities for investment, right up to a corporate level and locally, businesses are already working together because of the event being in Gloucester.”