MANY hotels and other accommodation in the Yorkshire Dales are already fully booked for the Tour de France – nearly a year-and-a-half before the event reaches the region.

The tour arrives in Yorkshire for two days on July 5, 2014, and will wind its way through a 120-mile circuit which passes through the Yorkshire Dales.

The event will provide an unprecedented boost to tourism in the region. Many holiday accommodation businesses in the dales say demand began moments after it was announced Yorkshire would host the Grand Depart.

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Chris Taplin, manager of the Stonehouse Hotel in Hawes said it was fully booked within a week of the race being announced and now the 24-bedroom hotel has a waiting list.

“The first phone call we had, somebody rang up and said they wanted to book a room for July 2014. I said he was organised and he told me the Tour de France location had been announced. We hadn’t even heard at that point,” said Mr Taplin.

“After that the calls didn’t stop. A lot of people booked in haven’t been here before, but worked out we were quite close to the route.”

The Stonehouse Hotel in Hawes, the Punchbowl Inn at Low Row near Richmond and Thief Hole Cottages, between Thirsk and Northallerton, are just some of those already fully booked for Le Tour dates, while many others, such as the Charles Bathurst in Arkengarthdale have only a couple of rooms left.

Some accommodation providers, such as Thornton Rust Bed and Breakfast, in Leyburn, are turning away people wanting to book, saying it is too early.

Owner Vanessa Kilvington, said: “I’ve had lots of people contact me. But I’ve just told them I’m not doing next year’s diary yet. I haven’t even bought it. I’ll take bookings in a more timely manner.”

Like many business owners, she is considering asking guests to stay a minimum of two or three nights. She said she would lose out on her weekend trade if she let people book just Friday night.

Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, Gary Verity, who led the successful bid to host the race, said: “The Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event and the Grand Départ is expected to attract three million spectators who will flock to Yorkshire, fill our hotels and guesthouses, eat in our cafes and restaurants and hopefully extend their stay to enjoy God’s Own County.

“We have been encouraging our members to capitalise on this, to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly and to make sure that they make the most of the Tour visiting the county.”