Festivals are making Britain Great

by Hope Wisechild

Picture: Hope Wisechild

UK festivals and stadium gigs attracted 6.5 million tourists last year with overseas visitors spending at least twice as much in the process as domestic tourists according to new figures released this month.

Wish You Were Here, a report for UK Music and VisitBritain, says of the 6.5m travelling to a 2012 UK festival or gig, overseas tourists made up 6% but accounted for 20% of the £2.2bn spend.

The report, commissioned after politicians like David Cameron, creative minister Ed Vaizey and shadow culture minister Dan Jarvis have all highlighted music tourism’s potential, calls for a government strategy to build on our appeal to overseas music fans.

Jo Dipple, CEO of UK Music, a research body representing the UK music industry, said: “It’s clear our music industry is doing a great job for the British economy. Our opportunities are limitless. Consider the record demand for Glastonbury 2014. The love of music is a powerful driver for growth.”

Domestic and overseas music tourists spent £1.3bn on tickets, transport and accommodation last year, and a further £914m indirectly, but while the average tourist from overseas spends £910 on a festival or £602 at a major gig, their UK counterpart spends £396 or £87.

London attracts 28% of our music tourism which supports at least 24,000 jobs nationally, and the report suggests our towns and cities should each make the most of their musical heritage, as Liverpool does with The Beatles.

Picture: Hope Wisechild

It also recommends extending the ‘Music is GREAT Britain’ campaign which showcases British talent abroad to promote our scene to potential visitors.

‘GREAT’ ambassador Jessie J said: “Music for me is the only global language. I see international visitors at my gigs all the time waving their flags. I love the thought of them going back to their home towns across the world with that lasting memory of me performing on stage.”

The study focused on ticketed, specifically live music events at venues which could hold at least 1500 people, so smaller festivals, multi-discipline arts events like WOMAD, and free events including the Notting Hill Carnival were excluded.

Anyone travelling at least three times their usual commute to an event was defined as a music tourist and only those purchasing their ticket in advance from an overseas address were counted as overseas visitors.

VisitBritain is the national tourism agency, funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and responsible for promoting Britain worldwide.


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