One of the long-time organisers of the Sydney to Gong bike ride claims Wollongong has failed to put forward a strong enough case to have the Sunday event rescheduled to a Saturday to boost tourist spending in the region.
Speaking at yesterday's Regional Development Australia leader's summit, MS Australia events development manager Kyle Kinsella acknowledged the event could be a big money spinner for Wollongong if it was moved to the more tourist-friendly day of Saturday, boosting the chance for short, post-event sightseeing trips and overnight stays.
However, Mr Kinsella told the audience the city and its businesses needed to show support for the event, which he said had been missing in past years.
"We started with 4000 people when I came on board [12 years ago] - now we've got it capped at 10,000, and we're turning people away," he said.
"This has the potential to be the largest event of its type in Australia, but to get there requires a lot of political and business will.
"I don't think Wollongong has embraced the ride as well as it could have in previous years, and it hasn't made a case for the kind of change in terms of swapping days."
He did say, however, he was keen to work with the new crop of Wollongong city councillors to discuss options for the future.
Destination Wollongong major events manager Jeremy Wilshire said he was keen to talk with the ride's organisers, but admitted there were significant traffic problems associated with having the race on a Saturday.
"The issue is closing down major roads, such as Lawrence Hargrave Drive, where there is no parallel alternative route," he said.
"We are constrained by the proximity of the coast to the escarpment down here.
"That doesn't mean we won't look at the options. We're definitely open to looking at it.
"If we can come up with ways to increase people's visitation to the area through it that would be good, and we'd definitely like to see the Sydney to Gong increase in size and scope. There are just logistical challenges around it we have to consider."