Music festivals may conjure up images of broke students in a muddy field. But, a major new study shows just how much is spent on everything from entrance tickets to tents, tipis, and taxis. The total comes to a whopping £1.4 billion forked out by nearly 8 million fans each year.
The landmark report by UK Music draws on unprecedented access to more than 2.5 million anonymised ticketing transactions and shows that festivals, concerts, and visits to iconic sites create 19,700 full-time jobs across the country. While just five percent of all music tourists come from overseas, they contribute 18 percent of the total spending.
These tourists also popularize otherwise mundane or unknown areas. Would Worthy Farm, Pilton, be a house-hold name if it weren’t for Glastonbury? Would anyone visit the Abbey Road zebra crossing if it weren’t for the Beatles’ album cover?
Amid the recession, music fans don’t only fork out for venues and alcohol, but also keep burger stands and bed and breakfasts in business.
Feargal Sharkey, the former lead singer of the Undertones and Chief Executive of UK Music says the study should be a wake-up call for the government.
“I am hugely excited by the findings of this research. Its message is crystal clear: music provides a huge boost to UK tourism, it drives growth, it sustains thousands of jobs across all regions and it enhances our lives. I am optimistic that policy-makers will view this data and acknowledge there is even more we could achieve, especially when it comes to attracting overseas visitors. The rest of the world clearly recognises the importance of music to the UK. It is time we did similar.”
UK Music is calling on the government to implement a national live music strategy, with the immediate goal of increasing the number of overseas music tourists.
This study follows on the heels of the government’s Plan For Growth, which specifically identifies the UK’s creative industries and tourism among sectors with the greatest potential to drive economic growth.
The government’s Tourism Strategy, published less than two months ago, includes a National Brand Index Survey which ranks Britain as fourth in the world for being an “interesting and exciting place for contemporary culture such as music, films, art and literature”.
Research on the ground-breaking study, which it titled Destination Music, was done by Bournemouth University’s International Centre for Hospitality and Tourism Research.
Research leader, Professor Adam Blake said: “This is the first time that a comprehensive study of music tourism has ever been undertaken in the UK. The data on where music-goers come from confirms that large numbers of them do travel around the country to go to music events, and significant numbers come from overseas. However, it is important to note that our definition of a music tourist is hugely conservative, and that we did not analyse the vast numbers of non-ticketed or smaller capacity events. Subsequently, the true value of music to UK tourism will be much higher.”
The full report can be downloaded here